Infertility

If a couple is unable to conceive within a year of trying, they may have a fertility issue. According to UCLA Health, approximately 15 percent of couples are unable to achieve pregnancy during a 12-month period.  

Causes for Infertility

Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors. For many couples, advanced maternal age plays a role. As women settle into their early 30s, they gradually become less fertile. By age 35, the number of viable eggs a woman has begins to rapidly decrease. Researchers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have linked DNA damage to age-related fertility declination in women. Issues with ovulation represent another common hurdle when trying to conceive. Other common causes of infertility include tubal occlusion (blocked fallopian tubes), subserosal uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, semen abnormalities and endometriosis. But in some cases, the reason for infertility cannot be explained.  

Treating Infertility

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports that roughly half of women who are diagnosed with infertility are able to find a treatment that helps them conceive. For women with ovulation disorders, medications that trigger egg development or prompt ovulation may prove successful. For others, intrauterine insemination (IUI) works. This is when a higher concentration of viable sperm are prepared and then inserted into the uterus using a catheter. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure in which eggs are fertilized outside of the body, and then implanted directly into the uterus. Third party reproduction refers to using a gestational surrogate or another person’s sperm and/or eggs. For 5 to 10 percent of women trying to conceive, a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause of infertility. A large-scale 2014 study found that a drug designed to treat breast cancer might help these women achieve pregnancy. Another 2013 study suggests that stress may actually impact a man’s sperm.

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