If you have struggled to conceive naturally, know that you’re not alone. 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. have experienced infertility. This is defined as the inability to get pregnant after a year or more of regular, unprotected sex.
Infertility isn’t exclusively a women’s health issue. It can affect anyone regardless of gender.
While these challenges may feel difficult to navigate, it is possible to have biological children after pursuing fertility treatment. A reproductive specialist can identify the underlying causes of your or your partner’s infertility and recommend the best treatment option.
Here’s an overview of male and female infertility, including signs of infertility and treatment options.
Female infertility often stems from an issue with the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus. There are several types of complications that may occur.
Certain types of cancer, particularly those of reproductive organs, and their treatment may also impact a woman’s risk of infertility.
There are also contributing factors unrelated to reproductive function, including the following:
Most cases of male infertility relate to issues with sperm production, including sperm quantity and quality. A low sperm count is typically defined as less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Male infertility can also be an issue of sperm delivery.
In some cases, there may not be an explanation for contributing factors. Around one in four couples affected by infertility will receive an unexplained diagnosis. This can be emotionally taxing and frustrating.
Finding support is crucial throughout the fertility journey. Resources like RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association can help you connect with others facing similar challenges.
Read Understanding the Causes of Infertility for a closer look at common fertility issues.
It isn’t uncommon to first discover a fertility issue after unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for more than a year. While many cases of infertility lack noticeable symptoms, there are some infertility warning signs to watch for.
Most health experts suggest consulting a healthcare professional if any of the following applies to you.
The following symptoms may be linked to a fertility issue.
Your doctor will ask questions about your health history, including factors related to your reproductive health and fertility.
Several tests may then be used to confirm a diagnosis of infertility.
An evaluation for male infertility begins with a conversation about a man’s medical history. This may include any factors related to reproductive health and fertility.
The most common next step is a semen test. This helps a doctor understand sperm count and overall sperm function including mobility. For many men, this is the only test required during the diagnostic process. Additional tests may be recommended in some cases.
IVF often comes to mind at the mention of fertility treatment, but it is one of many options. 80-90% of couples facing infertility are treated with medications or surgery.
The right fertility treatment for you depends on the cause of your or your partner’s infertility. Treatment encompasses medications, surgery, lifestyle changes, and forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) including IVF.
These are some of the common infertility treatments.
If you have additional questions regarding infertility, consult your physician or trusted healthcare professional to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.
Ruth Health is here to provide you with expert, evidence-based maternal care and advice. Interested in learning more about a particular topic? Send us an email at email@example.com.
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