The term infertility relates to a couple that cannot get pregnant (conceive) despite regular, unprotected intercourse within 1 year of trying (or 6 months if a woman is 35 years or older). Approximately 84% of couples will conceive naturally within one year, but around one in seven couples may have difficulty conceiving1.

Infertility affects both males and females alike, with approximately one third of issues being caused by women’s problems, one third caused by problems with the man and one third by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown causes2.

Common symptoms that a woman is not ovulating include irregular or absent menses. This could be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a caused by an imbalance of the hormones that are involved with normal ovulation and is the leading cause of infertility in women. Additional but less common causes include blockages in the fallopian tube(s), uterine problems such as physical problems or uterine fibroids.

The most common causes of male infertility are related to either low sperm counts or poor quality of the sperm with some of the less common issues due to genetic effects or hormonal imbalances.

As part of a diagnosis of infertility, doctors will perform physical examinations and discuss health of both partners. Following which a series of additional tests, including blood tests measuring levels of specific hormones may be required.

1. www.nhs.uk/conditions/Infertility/Pages/Introduction.aspx
2. www.asrm.org

Related disease area:

Fertility

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