What is Infertility?

Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages.*

I love several things about this definition:

  • In all of the complexities of infertility and infertility treatments, the very definition of infertility is so simple, straightforward, and easy to understand!
  • I also love that infertility is categorized as a disease or condition. There have been many people that I have come in contact with who dismiss infertility as just something imagined. Because it is a disease or condition, it has the potential of being cured and treated. At the same time, however, it can also be a chronic and life-long challenge.
  • Another thing that is great about this definition is that it gives us a specified time to begin worrying. Why worry longer than is needful? After all, once infertility is diagnosed, there is plenty of worrying to be done. Those of you out there who are worrying after 1 or 2 months of not getting pregnant, do not fret yet. Those of you who have been worrying for 2-3 years, perhaps now is the time to go to the next step…diagnosis. Many doctors do not begin the process of diagnosis until after the specified one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse. Don’t worry unnecessarily until the 1 year mark.
  • Last of all, I love that the definition of infertility includes couples who are dealing with the sorrow of multiple miscarriages. I have not personally experienced miscarriage, but my heart has hurt for many women who have. Women who have difficulty with conception and women who have difficulty maintaining pregnancies experience similar emotions and have great strength to glean from one another.

There is a lot of information I would love to give you to answer the question “What is Infertility?”. However, I think the basics would be most appreciated and helpful. Here you go…(check out Resources for some great places to find more information)

CoupleNewResizedInfertility Quick Facts…

  1. Infertility affects 6.1 million American women and their partners — about 10 percent of the reproductive age population.
  2. Infertility is a disease that affects the male or female reproductive system with almost equal frequency.
  3. Recent improvements in medication, microsurgery and in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques make pregnancy possible for more than half of the couples pursuing treatment.
  4. Twenty-five percent of infertile couples have multiple factors contributing to their infertility.

Common Causes/Reasons for Infertility…

  1. In approximately 40 percent of infertile couples, the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause of infertility. Sperm deficiencies can include low sperm production (oligospermia) or lack of sperm (azoospermia). Sperm may also have poor motility — they don’t move properly once inside the female reproductive tract to achieve fertilization. Additionally, sperm cells may be malformed or may die before they can reach the egg.
  2. Fallopian tube blockage and/or peritoneal factors (abdominal wall) account for approximately 35 percent of all female infertility problems.
  3. Irregular or abnormal ovulation accounts for approximately 40 percent of all female infertility cases.
  4. Endometriosis is found in about 35 percent of infertile women who have laparoscopy as part of their infertility assessment.
  5. Approximately 20 percent of infertility cases are unexplained; the source of the problem cannot be identified. However, with today’s technology, diagnoses of unexplained infertility are declining. (Please note that I have seen this statistic to vary from source to source)

(* Sources: www.resolve.org and www.asrm.org)

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