Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying. It is a common problem that can affect 1 in 7 couples. 80% of couples having regular sex should conceive within one year.
To get pregnant, there are several processes that must happen. The woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation). This egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the womb. The man’s sperm must travel through the vagina, womb and go through the fallopian tube to join with (fertilise) the egg. Then the fertilised egg (embryo) must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation). Anything that may hinder or interfere with any of these steps may cause infertility. In about 30 percent of couples, no obvious causes of infertility can be found.
Certain lifestyle issues like smoking and being under or overweight can also affect fertility.
If you have not conceived after one year of regular intercourse without the use of any contraception, it is recommended that you see a doctor. The age of a woman is an important consideration as both the number and quality of eggs decline with age. Hence, it is important to seek medical help early especially if the woman is over 35 years old.
Your doctor will be able to run some tests to identify where the problem may be.
For the female partner, hormonal tests are performed to look for ovarian reserve and to assess for ovulation.
For women who have irregular cycles, hormone tests for thyroid and prolactin levels are also checked.
An ultrasound scan can easily identify any fibroids or cysts. A hysterosalpingogram or ultrasound saline infusion may be offered to assess tubal patency.
Infertility is a common problem. There are many types of treatment tailored to every couple depending on what the cause may be. Seek treatment early as success depends on the age of the female partner.
For men, the semen test is performed after abstinence of three to five days.
Treatment is directed at the underlying problem.