Infertility usually refers to the inability to become pregnant. Most of the time, this diagnosis comes after a year of having unprotected sex while trying to conceive.
Infertility can fall into two basic categories: primary infertility and secondary infertility. Primary infertility is when a couple has never been able to conceive or carry a baby to term whereas secondary infertility is when a couple has had a child or children and has later found themselves not able to become pregnant or carry a child to term.
Infertility can come from either the male partner or the female partner. They are both just as likely to be the cause of the infertility as the other, and sometimes it can't be pinpointed who is the one with the fertility issue. Sometimes, infertility is not just referred to as one who cannot get pregnant, but also can refer to one who is unable to carry a pregnancy to term with multiple pregnancies.
According to The National Women's Health Information Center of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 12 percent of women in the United States face difficulties with getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term.
Some male factors of infertility deal with sperm disorders including; low sperm count, blockage of sperm, or failure to produce sperm. Other issues may be related to injury to the testicles, varicose veins in the testicles, undescended testes, erectile dysfunction, and infections.
One infertility issue that affects men and woman the same is age. For most women, fertility rates begin to decline at 35, while conception after 45 is rare. For men fertility decreases around age 40 and continually decreases some with every year that passes.
With women, infertility can be diagnosed by a doctor using several variables. Blood and urine tests are taken to measure and check hormone levels and LH surges as well as a Pap smear to study the cervix health. Other tests usually include an ultra sound and a postcoital test.
For men, the tests are much more simple and not as time consuming as the woman's testing. Basically, the mens' sperm are tested for sperm count, movement, maturity and viability. A man may also have blood drawn to test for hormonal levels and infections as well as possibly a testicular biopsy. In some cases, surgery to fix a structural issue may be needed.
Infertility can be treated in many ways. Most people seek help from their OB/Gyn or a Reproductive Endocrinologist or a doctor with a specialization in infertility. The first treatment for the women is generally fertility medications such as Clomid, Repronex, Pergonal, Gn-RH, Glucophage or Parlodel. Sometimes surgery to correct a structural issue may be required along with the medications or after a trial of using the medications with no success. Other treatment options are Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination or Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART). Some couples may decide on using a donor egg, donor sperm, or embryo donation to try to achieve pregnancy, while others may decide to look for into surrogacy.