For many couples, the inability to conceive a child can take a huge emotional, physical and financial toll. If you have not conceived after one year of unprotected, regular intercourse around the time of ovulation, there may be ways that we can help. With the proper guidance and some discipline, most couples can experience successful, healthy pregnancies.

Causes of infertility

Many couples believe that pregnancy will occur easily once they stop using birth control. However, not all couples are able to achieve conception easily. In fact, infertility affects about one in every 10 to 15 couples in the United States.

There are many possible reasons for infertility, but it is important to remember that about 35% of all reasons are due to a male factor, about 35% are due to a female factor, and the balance is due to both partners and unexplained causes.

Conception may be made more difficult for many reasons, including:

  • age (especially if you are 35 or older)
  • very high or very low body fat
  • chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, lupus, arthritis and hypertension
  • some medications
  • exposure to toxins
  • ovulatory disorders or failure to ovulate
  • blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • cervical problems
  • uterine abnormalities
  • previous abdominal surgery
  • male factors such as low sperm count or poor quality sperm
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine

Various symptoms such as abnormal periods, pelvic pain or multiple miscarriages can signal a problem with your ability to conceive. Some of these conditions can run in your family. If you identify a symptom or risk factor, even if you haven’t tried yet to get pregnant, let us know right away — especially if you are over the age of 35. Early treatment can prevent more serious conditions and enable a successful pregnancy.

Infertility diagnosis

If you and your partner are unable to conceive, we may conduct some of the following tests and procedures with you and/or your partner:

  • blood tests
  • semen analysis
  • a hysterosalpingogram (an X-ray to diagnose problems of the uterus and fallopian tubes)
  • a biopsy to check the quality of the uterine lining
  • an outpatient surgical procedure to check for pelvic scarring

Infertility treatments

About 85-90% of infertile couples can be treated using low-tech approaches, including:

  • hormone therapy or medications, including Clomid, Fertinex, Follistim, Gonal-F, Pergonal, Humegon and Repronex
  • surgical procedures to correct anatomical problems or abnormalities in either partner
  • artificial intrauterine insemination, an in-office procedure in which a physician inserts sperm (produced by masturbation) directly into the uterus

If these procedures are unsuccessful, about 5% of infertile couples move on to more advanced reproductive technologies. In these cases, we may refer patients to a reproductive endocrinologist at The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services. More advanced therapies include:

  • in vitro fertilization (IVF), a process where eggs are exposed to sperm outside the body and the resulting embryo is transferred back into the uterus
  • intracytoplasmic sperm injection, used in conjunction with IVF when the male has a low sperm count, where a single sperm is injected into the egg
  • cryopreservation, the freezing of embryos for later use
    implantation of healthy eggs from another woman

Additional information

American Society for Reproductive Medicine

InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID)

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology