Your Infertility Questions Answered
April 24, 2022More than 6 million people in the U.S. struggle to build a family because of infertility. Having access to the right information on infertility can help empower women and men to educate themselves on the condition and discover a path to physical and emotional well-being. In light of National Infertility Awareness Week, we’ve compiled a list of common questions surrounding infertility.
What is Infertility?
Infertility is defined medically as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is age 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are unable to remain pregnant also may be considered infertile.1
Are Only Women Affected by Infertility?
No, both men and women can have problems that cause infertility. Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third is attributed to the male partner, and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.
How is infertility Diagnosed and Treated?
Couples who are unable to conceive after a year of having unprotected sex are considered to be infertile. Between 85% to 90% of infertility cases are treated with conventional therapies, such as drug treatment, surgery, artificial insemination, or IVF.2
What Causes Female Infertility?
Most cases of female infertility are caused by problems with ovulation, which are often associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance. Other causes, which are less common, include blocked fallopian tubes, physical problems with the uterus, or uterine fibroids.
What Increases a Woman’s Risk of Infertility?
Age is the single most significant factor that increases a woman’s risk of infertility. A woman’s chance of conceiving starts to decline at age 30. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, poor diet, overexercising, stress, being overweight or underweight, and having a sexually transmitted infection can all increase a woman’s risk of infertility.
What Causes Infertility in Men?
Conditions such as varicocele, which is an enlargement of veins on a man’s testicle(s), can affect the number and shape of the sperm. Also, some men have too few sperm, none at all, or no vas deferens. Additionally, injuries to the reproductive system can block sperm.
What Factors Increase a Man’s Risk of Infertility?
As with women, lifestyle factors can play a large role in the risk of infertility in men. Factors that can change a man’s sperm and lead to infertility include smoking, heavy alcohol use, drug use, and environmental toxins such as pesticides. Additionally, certain medications, radiation treatment for cancer, age, and health conditions such as mumps, kidney disease, and hormone problems can contribute to male infertility.
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