For most couples, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after having consistent, unprotected sex for at least one year. A woman may also be infertile if she can get pregnant but can't stay pregnant.
Below are four things you should know about infertility.
Infertility is common.
If you're struggling with infertility, you may think you're the only person with the problem. But you should know that you're not alone. Consider these numbers:
- About 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S. either have trouble getting pregnant or have trouble carrying a pregnancy to term.
- In the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, 7.5 percent of men younger than 45 years old reported seeing a fertility doctor.
- Ten to 15 percent of couples in the U.S. are infertile.
Infertility affects both men and women.
Though we often think infertility is a condition that mainly affects women, this is not the case. Infertility is linked to the woman about one-third of the time, to the man about one-third of the time, and to both the man and the woman about one-third of the time.
Some women should see a doctor sooner.
Most women under the age of 35 can wait to see a doctor until they've tried to get pregnant for a year, but if you are 35 years old or older, you should see a doctor if you haven't been able to get pregnant after six months of trying.
You should also see a doctor (even if you're younger than 35) after six months of trying if your health history includes any of the following:
- amenorrhea (abnormal absence of a period)
- irregular periods
- very painful periods
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- two or more miscarriages
Doctors don't always find the cause.
Approximately 15 to 30 percent of couples are diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This means a cause for infertility couldn't be found. This is frustrating for couples, but you shouldn't lose hope. Doctors can still treat this form of infertility and help you conceive a healthy baby.
A primary care provider or OBGYN with The Christ Hospital Physicians can help you prepare for pregnancy and answer your questions about fertility. Find a physician.