- Infertility facts*
- What is infertility?
- Is infertility a common problem?
- Is infertility just a woman's problem?
- What causes infertility in men?
- What increases a man's risk of infertility?
- What causes infertility in women?
- What things increase a woman's risk of infertility?
- How does age affect a woman's ability to have children?
- How long should women try to get pregnant before calling their doctors?
- How will doctors find out if a woman and her partner have fertility problems?
- How do doctors treat infertility?
- What medicines are used to treat infertility in women?
- What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)?
- What is assisted reproductive technology (ART)?
- How often is assisted reproductive technology (ART) successful?
- What are the different types of assisted reproductive technology (ART)?
- Gestational carrier
- For more information
- Infertility FAQs
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
*Infertility facts medically edited by: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
- Infertility means not being able to become pregnant, within certain parameters.
- Infertility is a common problem of about 10% of women aged 15 to 44.
- Infertility can be due to the woman (33%), the man (33%) and by both sexes or due to unknown problems (33%), approximately.
- Infertility in men can be due to varicocele, low or absent sperm count, sperm damage or certain diseases.
- Risk factors for men's infertility include alcohol and drug use, toxins, smoking, age, health problems, medicines, radiation, and chemotherapy.
- Risk factors for women's infertility include ovulation problems, blocked Fallopian tubes, uterine problems, uterine fibroids, age, stress, poor diet, athletic training, and those risk factors listed for men.
- Aging decreases a woman's fertility; after age 35 about 33% of couples have fertility problems; older women's eggs are reduced in number, not as healthy and less likely to be released by the ovary – the woman is also more likely to have a miscarriage and other health problems.
- Women under 35 should try for a year or 6 months if 35 or older to become pregnant before contacting their doctor if they have no health problems.
- Doctors use the histories of both partners and may run tests such as sperm studies, ovulation tests, ultrasound, hysterosalpingography, or laparoscopy.
- Infertility may be treated with medicine, surgery, artificial insemination, or assisted reproductive technology, based on the couples test results and other factors.
- There are multiple medicines that may be used to treat infertility in women.
- Intrauterine insemination is artificial insemination where a woman is injected with sperm into the uterus.
- ART (assisted reproductive technology) is when a woman's eggs are removed, mixed with sperm to make embryos that are placed back in the woman's body; it's successful about 11% to 39%, depending on the woman's age.
- There are several types of ART; in vitro fertilization, Zygote transfer, Gamete transfer and intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
- Surrogacy (the woman's male partner sperm is used to fertilize another woman egg and that other woman carries the fetus to term and the infant is then adopted ) is a way for some couples to obtain a baby.
- A gestational carrier is a woman who has an embryo placed in her uterus, carries the fetus to term and gives the baby to the couple (or responsible persons) that produced the embryo.
What is infertility?
Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. Or, six months, if a woman is 35 or older. Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.
Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps. To get pregnant:
- A woman must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg must go through a Fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
- A man's sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way.
- The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Infertility can happen if there are problems with any of these steps.
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