Defining Infertility

Infertility as defined by the experts may surprise you. According to guidelines established by infertility specialists, you’re not considered to be infertile until you’ve been trying to get pregnant for one year, if you’re under age 35. That means that trying to get pregnant last week and not having signs of pregnancy this week does not mean that you’re infertile.

What Causes Infertility?

Infertility has many causes, and figuring out which applies to you may be very simple – or very difficult. Although women used to bear the brunt of blame for infertility, the truth is that male and female factors share equally in infertility.

Consider the following statistics:
• One third of infertility is caused by female factors
• One third of infertility is caused by male factors
• Around 20 percent of infertility is unexplained
• Around 10 to 15 percent of infertility is caused by a combination of male and female factors

Approximately 20% of couples struggle with infertility at any given time. Infertility has increased as a problem over the last 30 years. Some studies blame this increase on social phenomena, including the tendency for marriage and starting a family to occur at a later age. For women, fertility decreases with increasing age:
• married women ages 16-20 = 4.5%.
• married women ages 35-40 = 31.8%.
• married women over the age of 40 = 70%.

Among women, the main causes of infertility are:
• Ovulatory disorders – no ovulation or irregular ovulation
• Tubal disorders – blocked or infected tubes
• Uterine issues – fibroids, polyps or adhesions

For men the most common causes of infertility are:
• Low sperm count
• Decreased sperm motility
• Abnormally shaped sperm
• No sperm at all in the ejaculate

Defining Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility is defined as the condition where a woman is unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after already having had one or more children. Some experts put the added caveat of “after 12 months of trying to conceive naturally on their own”, to better qualify the term. Some experts define it as occurring anytime after a previous conception, whether that conception ended in a birth or a miscarriage. Some women with endometriosis-associated infertility are not able to become pregnant a second time.

Secondary infertility can occur whether the first conception was difficult or easy. It can be due to female issues, male issues, or a combination of both.

The costs of treatment

Infertility treatments can be difficult enough. Like everything, infertility costs vary and can depend on where you live, which physician/practice you see and most importantly, whether your treatment is small, medium, or large.

When you’re starting out, expect to pay $ 10 to $ 15 for an ovulation predictor kit and about the same for pregnancy kits. A basal body thermometer will run you about $ 10 to $ 20. This is the easy stuff. But, for now, let’s take it one step at a time.

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By Albert Silva

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