Infertility is the inability to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected sex.
Statistics show that, in an infertile heterosexual couple, one third of the time the problem resides with the male partner and one third of the time with the female partner. In the remaining cases, doctors either can't find the source of the problem or determine both partners have fertility issues.
How Conception Works
Successful conception involves many steps:
- An egg is released from the woman's ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg travels to the fallopian tubes. Here the man's sperm can fertilize it.
- If the egg is fertilized (conception), it moves down the fallopian tubes to the uterus.
- It implants itself into the wall of the uterus. It then begins its 40 weeks of fetal growth.
Diagnostics: The First Step
Finding out the cause of your infertility is the first step. Your doctor will want to evaluate both partners. The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history and look for physical problems that might cause infertility.
Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
Fertility treatments can cost a great deal and take a long time. Insurance often doesn't cover them. Before embarking on a course of treatments, you can try these changes and preventative measures.
Reduce Your Risks
Not all causes of infertility can be prevented. The following steps may help:
- Stop smoking or using marijuana, opiates and anabolic steroids.
- Avoid excessive use of caffeine and alcohol.
- Stay away from harmful chemicals and heavy metals.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by using condoms.
- Try stress-management techniques.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Before looking into treatment options, your doctor may suggest that you first try:
- Changing the timing of sexual activity (to match ovulation)
- Avoiding excessive exercise and heat, like steam rooms and saunas
- A daily antioxidant supplement
- If you're male, wearing looser fitting shorts and pants
If you need medical treatment, our experts in men's health or women's health can help you find the right options for you.