Introduction to fertility
Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a year. Most couples (approximately 85%) will achieve pregnancy within one year of trying.We generally recommend seeking the help of a Fertility Specialist if conception has not occurred within 12 months.
Infertility causes can affect one or both partners. In general:
- In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the male.
- In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the female.
- In the remaining cases, there are issues with both the male and female, or no cause can be identified (unexplained infertility).
It can be difficult to know when to visit a specialist to seek infertility treatment, as this can often depend on the individual but one of the most important factors in determining when is right to get support, is age.
The ages and lengths of time trying to conceive before visiting a specialist are shown below. Please note that if you are concerned about any aspect of your fertility you can come and see us before these recommended times.
|Women under 35||After 1 year without success|
|Women 35-39||After 6 months without success|
|Women or men over 39||As soon as possible|
Contacting ReproMed according to the above table will allow for any fertility problems to be identified and acted upon as early as possible.
However, there are various scenarios where one may be advised to seek help even earlier. These include:
- Infrequent or irregular menstrual periods: If a woman has cycles at intervals of greater than 35 days, it may indicate that she is not ovulating regularly, or even at all. Therefore, we recommend an evaluation if menstrual cycles are infrequent or irregular in a couple attempting pregnancy.
- A history of pelvic infections or sexually transmitted diseases: Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, can cause inflammation and permanent scarring of the fallopian tubes in women and a decrease in quality and motility of the sperm in the men. We recommend immediate evaluation for a couple attempting pregnancy when either partner has a prior history of pelvic infection.
- Known uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps: Uterine abnormalities, such as fibroids that indent the endometrial cavity and endometrial polyps, can impair how the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and embryo interact and reduce implantation and pregnancy rates. These abnormalities can also cause irregular bleeding between menstrual cycles. Evaluation should be pursued after 6 months of trying to achieve a pregnancy in women with a known history of these abnormalities or a history of bleeding between menstrual cycles.
- Known male factor semen abnormalities: If a male partner has a history of infertility with a prior partner, then we advise earlier fertility evaluation, ideally within 6 months of attempting pregnancy.
Despite all of this, there are many reasons to feel optimistic. It may be surprising to hear, but infertility is not uncommon. One in every six couples in the now experiences infertility and many couples treated will go on to conceive successfully.