Over 6.1 million men and women, or about 1 in 10 couples, experience infertility which is defined as the inability to become pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months for women over 35 years old). There are many factors that must come together to achieve a successful pregnancy and any change or disruption of these factors could result in difficulties conceiving. For example, the egg must be healthy and released at a certain time, sperm needs to reach the egg during a specific period after the egg is released, fertilization followed by implantation of the developing embryo must occur within a defined period. Challenges in this process can arise from the male partner, the female partner or both. Due to advances in reproductive medicine, however, we are able to identify the causes of infertility in most cases and provide treatment options to overcome these challenges.
In women, fertility challenges often arise from problems with ovulation- irregular ovulation, anovulation (not ovulating at all) or blocked tubes where the egg cannot reach the uterus or be reached by sperm. Endocrine disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can also cause eggs to be released unreliably or not at all. Age plays a large role in the health of eggs, and women over 40 have a significantly higher risk of eggs with chromosomal abnormalities. Endometriosis is diagnosed in 25-35% of women facing infertility, and can cause pain, tubal blockages, adhesions or scar formation on the pelvic organs. Other less common challenges to fertility include recurrent miscarriage, fibroids, egg-sperm interaction problems, cancer and chemotherapy.
Male factor infertility is due to challenges with making sperm (low or no sperm count), the ability of the sperm to reach the egg (motility) and fertilization of the egg. There are many treatments to correct these problems, from surgery to general health and lifestyle changes.
The physicians at Laurel Fertility Care understand that infertility affects both partners, no matter what the source of the problem. Contact us to discuss the challenges you are facing, so we can help you turn your dreams into reality. Please note some new documents for education: http://reproductivefacts.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/ART.pdf