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Infertility—What It Is and How To Manage It

Infertility is a common problem, and it's more common than you might think. It's estimated that one in eight couples is infertile, meaning millions of people in the U.S. alone are struggling to conceive. See your doctor if you've been trying for a year without success. While there are many reasons why infertility occurs, and not all of them can be treated with medications or surgery, your doctor may be able to find answers or help you explore other options for starting or adding to your family.

Infertility problems

What is infertility?

Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying, and it's a common problem affecting about one in eight couples (1). The causes of infertility are often complex, but they can be categorized into three basic types: male, female, and combined.

Abnormalities of sperm production or function cause male factor infertility. These include insufficient numbers of healthy sperm in semen or poor sperm movement (motility) that prevents them from reaching the egg and fertilizing it.

Female factor infertility is associated with ovulation problems and structural issues relating to the uterine tubes and other areas involved in egg transport.

Combined factors account for at least half of all cases where both partners have problems contributing to their inability to conceive naturally (2).

What causes infertility?

  • In men, infertility is often caused by low sperm quality or sperm count.

  • In women, it can be caused by ovulation problems, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of it and forms cysts filled with blood and tissue.

  • In both men and women, lifestyle factors such as smoking can increase your risk for infertility.

How can you tell if you have infertility?

Infertility is a medical condition, not an automatic diagnosis. A doctor can only diagnose infertility after they've evaluated your reproductive health and treated all the underlying issues. This means that you may have to undergo a series of tests and treatments before getting a proper diagnosis.

These tests and treatments can be expensive, which sometimes makes it difficult for couples without insurance or limited incomes to get the care they need. Remember that even if your insurance plan doesn't cover infertility treatment, there are other options for you—including charitable donations from family members or friends who want nothing more than for you to have children someday!

Finally: Don't despair! Even though infertility is common (about 10% of couples experience trouble getting pregnant or carrying a baby full-term), it doesn't mean that it will happen forever—the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 70% of people diagnosed with infertility eventually conceive naturally within 12 months after trying without medical help; so don't lose hope just yet!

Can you treat infertility?

Yes, you can treat infertility. Many things can be done to help men and women overcome this condition, but not all treatments are the same. The effectiveness of a particular treatment depends on various factors, including the specific cause of infertility (i.e., male factor or female factor), your age and health status, your income level and insurance coverage (if any), your religious beliefs, and other personal considerations.

Some treatments may be more effective at addressing specific causes of infertility while being less effective with others; similarly, some treatments may be more suited to certain people than others based on their age or genetic background. You need to consider whether you want children now or in the future when considering which treatment options will work best for you—and whether those options are affordable enough for you to afford as well!

When should you see a doctor about infertility?

If you have been trying to conceive for at least a year and have not yet become pregnant, it is a good idea to see a doctor.

  • If you are over 35, it's time to seek help after six months of trying to conceive. This can be extended to nine months if you have been diagnosed with endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

  • If your periods are irregular or absent, this may indicate hormonal imbalance and could mean that there is an underlying problem that requires treatment before conception can be achieved.

Infertility is not a problem that should be ignored.

When you think of infertility, you may have a picture in your mind of a couple who has been trying to have a baby for years and are now at an age where they can no longer conceive naturally. In reality, infertility is not just something that happens to older people. Infertility affects about 20 percent of the U.S.U.S. population and can occur in people of all ages.

In addition to being more common than most people realize, infertility is also far from being solely a woman's problem: About one-third of cases result from male-factor issues (meaning problems with sperm production), one-third from female factors (such as ovulation problems or cervical mucus issues), and one-third are unexplained or multifactorial (including both male and female causes).

If you're one of those people who has been struggling with infertility for some time—or if you suspect that you or your partner might be infertile—the good news is that there are many options available to help manage your condition, whether it's medical treatments like IVF or surgery like vasectomy reversal.

Supplements may help

Supplements are not a substitute for professional help, but they may help as part of an overall strategy to deal with stress, depression, and anxiety. They can also help promote overall health—and fertility. "The key is to make sure that you're taking the right supplement," says Dr. Susan Lark, who specializes in reproductive endocrinology at the Chicago-based practice Advanced Infertility Specialists. "There are a lot of supplements out there that don't work."


Infertility is a serious condition that can devastate your life and the lives of those around you. If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of infertility, it's essential to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. It may be helpful for you to talk to someone who understands what it means to have this condition—your doctor may be able to recommend an experienced counselor who specializes in infertility issues. Also, remember that many resources are available online, including websites like ours!

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