Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility
How does age affect a woman's ability to have children?
More and more women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children.
Actually, about 20% of women in the United States now have their first child
after age 35. So age is an increasingly common cause of fertility problems.
About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 have fertility
Aging decreases a woman's chances of having a baby in the following
- The ability of a woman's ovaries to release eggs ready for fertilization
declines with age.
- The health of a woman's eggs declines with age.
- As a woman ages she is more likely to have health problems that can
interfere with fertility.
- As a women ages, her risk of having a miscarriage increases.
How long should women try to get pregnant before calling their doctors?
Most healthy women under the age of 30 shouldn't worry about infertility
unless they've been trying to get pregnant for at least a year. At this point,
women should talk to their doctors about a fertility evaluation. Men should
also talk to their doctors if this much time has passed.
In some cases, women should talk to their doctors sooner. Women in their 30s
who've been trying to get pregnant for six months should speak to their doctors
as soon as possible. A woman's chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every
year after the age of 30. So getting a complete and timely fertility evaluation
is especially important.
Some health issues also increase the risk of fertility problems. So women
with the following issues should speak to their doctors as soon as
- Irregular periods or no menstrual periods
- Very painful periods
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- More than one miscarriage
No matter how old you are, it's always a good idea to talk to a doctor
before you start trying to get pregnant. Doctors can help you prepare your body
for a healthy baby. They can also answer questions on fertility and give tips
How will doctors find out if a woman and her partner have fertility problems?
Sometimes doctors can find the cause of a couple's infertility by doing a
complete fertility evaluation. This process usually begins with physical exams
and health and sexual histories. If there are no obvious problems, like poorly
timed intercourse or absence of ovulation, tests will be needed.
Finding the cause of infertility is often a long, complex, and emotional
process. It can take months for you and your doctor to complete all the needed
exams and tests. So don't be alarmed if the problem is not found right
For a man, doctors usually begin by testing his semen. They look at the
number, shape, and movement of the sperm. Sometimes doctors also suggest
testing the level of a man's hormones.