If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, you may have infertility.
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs one of the body’s most basic functions: the conception of children. Conception is a complicated process that depends upon many factors:
- on the production of healthy sperm by the man and healthy eggs by the woman;
- unblocked fallopian tubes that allow the sperm to reach the egg;
- the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg when they meet;
- the ability of the fertilized egg (embryo) to become implanted in the woman’s uterus;
- and sufficient embryo quality.
- Finally, for the pregnancy to continue to full term, the embryo must be healthy and the woman’s hormonal environment adequate for its development.
When just one of these factors is impaired, infertility can result.
If you’re trying to conceive on your own, a few factors may increase your chances of success.
- Find out when you ovulate by using ovulation predictor tests.
- Don’t use lubricant, unless it’s specially developed to be sperm-friendly.
- Both partners should cut back on caffeine and alcohol, and quit smoking altogether.
- Be sure your male partner avoids overheating his testicles in hot tubs, saunas or baths.
- If you’re overweight, shed pounds with a healthy diet and exercise.
- If you’re underweight, take in more calories while cutting back on exercise.
You should consider having an infertility evaluation if any of the following apply to you:
- You have not become pregnant after 1 year of having regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control.
- You are older than age 35 years and have not become pregnant after trying for 6 months without using birth control.
- You are older than age 40 years and have not become pregnant within 6 months of trying without using birth control.
- Your menstrual cycle is not regular.
- You or your partner have a known fertility problem.
An infertility evaluation includes exams and tests to try to find the reason why you and your partner have not become pregnant. If a cause is found, treatment may be possible. In many cases, infertility can be successfully treated even if no cause is found.
The first visit with a fertility specialist usually involves a detailed medical history and a physical exam. You will be asked questions about your menstrual period, abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina, pelvic pain, and disorders that can affect reproduction such as thyroid disease. You and your partner will be asked about the following health issues:
You and your partner also will be asked questions about your sexual history:
As every patient is an individual, so is their care. To better guide you on your fertility journey, your initial step is fertility testing. Both partners, whether male or female, will be asked to complete preliminary testing in an effort to develop a customized treatment plan to maximize chances at success.