Infertility means you cannot get pregnant (conceive).
There are 2 types of infertility:
• Primary infertility refers to couples who have not become pregnant after at least 1 year having sex without using birth control methods.
• Secondary infertility refers to couples who have been able to get pregnant at least once, but now are unable.
Many physical and emotional factors can cause infertility. It may be due to problems in the woman, man, or both.
Female infertility may occur when:
• A fertilized egg or embryo does not survive once it attaches to the lining of the womb (uterus).
• The fertilized egg does not attach to the lining of the uterus.
• The eggs cannot move from the ovaries to the womb.
• The ovaries have problems producing eggs.
Female infertility may be caused by:
• Autoimmune disorders, such as antiphospholipid syndrome (APS)
• Birth defects that affect the reproductive tract
• Cancer or tumor
• Clotting disorders
• Drinking too much alcohol
• Exercising too much
• Eating disorders or poor nutrition
• Growths (such as fibroids or polyps) in the uterus and cervix
• Medicines such as chemotherapy drugs
• Hormone imbalances
• Being overweight or underweight
• Older age
• Ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
• Pelvic infection resulting in scarring or swelling of fallopian tubes (hydrosalpinx) or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
• Scarring from sexually transmitted infection, abdominal surgery or endometriosis
• Surgery to prevent pregnancy (tubal ligation) or failure of tubal ligation reversal (reanastomosis)
• Thyroid disease
Male infertility may be due to:
• Decreased number of sperm
• Blockage that prevents the sperm from being released
• Defects in the sperm
Male infertility can be caused by:
• Birth defects
• Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation
• Exposure to high heat for prolonged periods
• Heavy use of alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine
• Hormone imbalance
• Medicines such as cimetidine, spironolactone, and nitrofurantoin
• Older age
• Retrograde ejaculation
• Scarring from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), injury, or surgery
• Toxins in the environment
• Vasectomy or failure of vasectomy reversal
• History of testicular infection from mumps
Healthy couples under age 30 who have sex regularly will have about a 20% per month chance of getting pregnant each month.
A woman is most fertile in her early 20s. The chance a woman can get pregnant drops greatly after age 35 (and especially after age 40). The age when fertility starts to decline varies from woman to woman.
Infertility problems and miscarriage rates increase significantly after 35 years of age. There are now options for early egg retrieval and storage for women in their 20’s. This will help ensure a successful pregnancy if childbearing is delayed until after age 35. This is an expensive option.
However, women who know they will need to delay childbearing may consider it.