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Infertility Overview

Infertility Overview

Infertility can be frustrating and heartbreaking for people who wish to become parents, but are unsuccessful in conceiving a child. Infertility can be caused by a reproductive problem in a man or woman, and many couples are dealing with it today. In fact, almost 10% of couples trying to conceive
or 6.1 million people in the U.S. alone have infertility problems, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. This also includes miscarriages, which are extremely common in the first few months of pregnancy.

If you and your partner are under 35 years old and have been trying to get pregnant for up to a year, it's time to seek help for fertility problems. If you are over 35 years old, you should only wait six months before making an appointment with your physician. There are numerous tests that a fertility specialist can do to determine where the problem is coming from.

Infertility is a problem in both sexes; it's not more common in men than women, and often the cause is completely unknown. Some of the common reasons for infertility in women are: irregular or defective ovulation due to birth defects, chronic diseases, or hormone production. If a woman has had surgery on her reproductive organs, scar tissue may build up in the fallopian tubes or on the uterus walls. In other cases, the woman is able to get pregnant, but because of a build up of scar tissue she will continue to lose the baby. Endometriosis can also be a cause of female infertility.

In men, infertility can be caused by a low sperm count, or defective sperm. Ejaculation dysfunction can lead to infertility, as well as blocked tubes or infections in the penis. The doctor will ask the male to ejaculate into a cup, and the sperm will be counted and tested for speed and mobility.

In both men and women, lifestyle choices can cause infertility. If you or your partner is considerably overweight or underweight, you may have trouble conceiving. Smoking, alcohol and drug use can also cause infertility, and your doctor will ask for a detailed medical and lifestyle history when you go for a consultation.

The fertility doctor will perform any of a variety of tests is infertility is suspected. By taking samples of semen or cervical fluid, analyzing blood samples, and having the woman keep track of her basal temperature, the doctor may be able to determine what's causing the infertility. Sometimes he or she will perform a laparoscopy or hysteroscopy in the office to view the woman's fallopian tubes and uterus. Once the physician has performed these and other fertility tests, he or she may be able to offer a couple some hope that they can naturally conceive.


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