Fertility Problems - Topic Overview
You may have
fertility problems if you haven't been able to get pregnant after trying for
at least 1 year. It doesn't necessarily mean you will never get pregnant. Often, couples conceive without help in
their second year of trying. Some don't succeed. But medical treatments do help
Age is an important factor if you are trying to
decide whether to get testing and treatment for fertility problems. A woman is
most fertile in her late 20s. After age 35, fertility decreases and the risk of
miscarriage goes up.
- If you are younger than 35, you may want to
give yourself more time to get pregnant.
- If you are 35 or older,
you may want to get help soon.
In cases of fertility problems:1
- About 50 out of 100 are caused by a problem
with the woman's reproductive system . These may be problems
fallopian tubes or
uterus or her ability to ovulate (release an egg).
- About 35 out of 100 are caused
by a problem with the
man's reproductive system . The most common is low sperm count.
- In about 10 out of 100,
no cause can be found in spite of testing.
About 5 out of 100 are caused by an uncommon problem.
Before you have fertility tests, try
fertility awareness. A woman can learn when she is
likely to ovulate and be fertile by charting her
basal body temperature and using home tests. Some
couples find that they simply have been missing their most fertile days when
trying to conceive.
If you aren't sure when you ovulate, try
Interactive Tool: When Are You Most Fertile?
If these methods don't help, the first step is for both partners to have
some simple tests. A doctor can:
- Do a physical exam of both of you.
- Ask questions about your past health to look for clues, such as a
pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Ask about
your lifestyle habits, such as how often you exercise and whether you drink
alcohol or use drugs.
- Do tests that check
semen quality and both partners'
hormone levels in the blood. Hormone imbalances can be
a sign of ovulation problems or sperm problems that can be treated.
Your family doctor can do these tests. For more complete
testing, you may need to see a fertility specialist.
A wide range
of treatments is available. Depending on what is causing the problem, a couple may
be able to:
- Take a medicine that helps the woman
- Have a procedure that puts sperm directly inside the
- Have a surgery that corrects a problem
endometriosis or blocked fallopian tubes.
Have a procedure that might increase the man's sperm count.