Frequently Asked Questions
What is infertility?
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child after one year of regular, unprotected sex. For couples over the age of 35, this period is shortened to six months. Infertility is considered to be a disease that affects the reproductive system and is a problem that requires medical attention.
Is infertility caused by the female or male?
About one third of the time, infertility is due to the female while another third of infertility cases are caused by male factors. In the remaining third of occurrences, both female and male factors contribute to the infertility.
How common is infertility?
It is estimated that infertility affects about 10% of the population. It is believed that between 2.1 million and 6.1 million Americans are experiencing infertility. Because only about half of those experiencing infertility actually seek help, it is difficult to know the exact number.
Can I be infertile if I already have a child?
Infertility can happen at any time. Having a child does not guarantee you will be fertile in the future. In fact, more couples experience secondary infertility (fertility problems experienced in couples with one or more children) than primary infertility (fertility problems experienced in couples with no children).
Who is at risk of being infertile?
Individuals who smoke, are overweight, use drugs and/or alcohol regularly, have a history of sexually transmitted infections, endometriosis, DES exposure, tubal problems or are over the age of 35 are at risk of having fertility problems.
Can I prevent infertility?
In some cases, losing weight, cutting out drugs, alcohol and/or cigarettes and eating a healthy diet are enough to improve your fertility. However, for many individuals, infertility cannot be prevented and will require medical intervention.
How is infertility diagnosed?
Both you and your partner should be investigated when you suspect a fertility problem. Make an appointment with your family doctor who will be able to evaluate the state of your health and whether this is contributing to your infertility. More in-depth testing, with ultrasounds and blood tests, may also be done. If your doctor does not have experience with fertility problems, you may be referred to a fertility specialist who will be able to carry out a detailed investigation as to why you are having troubles conceiving.
Is infertility always treated with "hi-tech" solutions?
No, some couples are able to restore their fertility with simple lifestyle changes. Others require minimal medical intervention, like surgery or medications, before they are able to conceive a child. Between 85% and 90% of couples will be able to restore their fertility with one of these conventional therapies.
How frequently do people use assisted reproductive technologies (ART)?
Although they are talked about a lot, less than 5% of couples experiencing fertility problems actually undergo ART. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most commonly used form of ART, accounting for approximately 98% of all ART procedures done. However, less than 2% of all infertile couples actually use IVF.