Women often blame themselves for their inability to get pregnant, but the numbers show infertility is equally caused by male problems (40%) and female problems (40%). In 20% of infertility cases, the cause is never discovered.
If a couple has been trying to have a baby with well-timed intercourse for a year without getting pregnant, it may be time to find out if there is a medical reason. Couples who smoke or who have special circumstances-for instance, the woman is over the age of 35 or has had ovarian surgery-should only wait six months before seeking help. The couple should seek expert medical care if the man has a low or no sperm count or the woman has endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease or uterine fibroids.
Conception depends on many factors -- the man's production of healthy sperm and the woman's production of healthy eggs, unblocked fallopian tubes that provide a passageway for eggs and sperm, the sperm's ability to fertilize the egg, a normal uterine cavity and the egg's ability to become implanted in the woman's uterus. If any one of these factors is problematic, it can result in infertility-a disease of the reproductive system.
Two of the most common reasons for male infertility are no sperm (azoospermia) or too few sperm (oligospermia). Ovulation disorder is the most common factor in female infertility.
Thirty years ago infertile couples had limited options, but Dr. Fisseha, medical director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, says the diagnosis is "no longer an absolute."
The Center for Reproductive Medicine offers a complete range of assisted reproductive technology options including: in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ultrasound-guided embryo transfer, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and cryopreservation (freezing) of extra embryos for future use. Other services include intrauterine insemination (IUI) as well as egg donor IVF and therapeutic donor insemination (TDI). (See glossary for definitions.)
Sometimes the solution doesn't require extraordinary measures. Fisseha also helps women who have medical conditions such as thyroid or pituitary abnormalities that make them infertile. She says, "A woman's treatment may be having her health optimized." Treating the underlying medical condition may mean that a couple doesn't need assisted reproductive technologies to overcome infertility.