Infertility Overview

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive and become pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourses. Infertility is a common medical condition, affecting approximately 1 of 7 couples.

Both men and women experience infertility. Twenty percent of infertility cases have unknown causes. Male factor infertility takes place in half of infertility cases. Azoospermia (the absence of any sperm) or oligospermia (the presence of too few sperm) are the most common causes of male infertility. Infertility in women is usually caused by anovulation (absence of ovulation), blocked fallopian tubes, or uterine abnormalities, gynecologic problems.

Conception and pregnancy involves many biologic factors and phases. First of all the man needs to produce healthy sperm and the woman healthy eggs; the cervical mucus should be healthy and abundant in order to the sperm will travel up through the cervical canal to the uterus and fallopian tubes. The fallopian tubes must be open and accessible to pass the sperm to the egg. The sperm has to be able to fertilize the egg when they make contact and then the fertilized egg has to be able to implant in the womans uterus. Both the embryo and the womans uterine environment need to be healthy and strong enough for the baby to come to term. If any unit of this biologic chain is impaired or damaged in any way, infertility can result.

Infertility is diagnosed after examination of both partners. According to the diagnosis suitable treatment is determined. It may include medication, surgery, or in vitro fertilization (IVF). In half of cases treatment results in desirable pregnancy.