What is Infertility?

by : peterhutch

Many people may be infertile during their reproductive years. They may be unaware of this because they are not seeking to create a pregnancy. On any one occasion, the chance of pregnancy is just one percent. About one in seven couples in the United States are infertile. Age, lifestyle and physical problems can all contribute to infertility.

Infertility Cancer and its treatment may sometimes put female survivors at risk for infertility. Infertility means not being able to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy, usually after you have been trying for over a year. There are many different causes for infertility in cancer survivors. While it's best to discuss your risk for infertility before treatment begins, there are still options for cancer survivors who may experience infertility as a result of cancer or its treatment.

Infertility affects approximately 10% of the population. Since infertility strikes diverse groups-affecting people from all socioeconomic levels and cutting across all racial, ethnic and religious lines- chances are great that a friend, relative, neighbor or perhaps you are attempting to cope with the medical and emotional aspects of infertility.

If you've been trying to conceive for more than a year, there's a chance that something may be interfering with your efforts to have a child. Infertility may be due to a single cause in either you or your partner, or a combination of factors that may prevent a pregnancy from occurring or continuing.

Infertility or possible infertility may affect you emotionally. If you want to have children, it's perfectly understandable if thinking about being infertile makes you feel sad or upset. This document outlines the physical causes of infertility and options for survivors who may have difficulty having children. It does not explain how infertility can affect you emotionally, which is something you may want to discuss with a mental health professional.

Causes of infertility can be found in about 90% of infertility cases but, despite extensive tests, about 10% of couples will never know why they cannot conceive. Between 10 - 30% of cases of infertility have more than one cause. Male or female infertility each account for about 30 - 40% of cases. In men, sperm defects (their quality and quantity) are usually responsible. Female infertility is more complex.

Roughly one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to male factors and another one-third to factors that affect women. For the remaining infertile couples, infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners (about 13%) or is unexplained (about 10%). The most common causes of male infertility include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, male infertility is caused by a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality.

Infertility affects men and women equally. About one-third of the cases are due to a male factor, one-third to the female and the remaining to the combination of both partners. Causes of infertility include a wide range of physical as well as emotional factors. For a woman to be fertile, her reproductive organs must be healthy and functional. To conceive a child, the ovaries must release healthy eggs regularly and her reproductive tract must allow the eggs and sperm to pass into her fallopian tubes for a possible union.