Infertility is a condition where a woman has not gotten pregnant after one year of having unprotected sex as a means to conceive. Unfortunately, infertility is a common problem in the United States, affecting 6 percent married women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are the most common fertility issues men and women face today.
1: Male Infertility
Infertility isn’t just a “woman’s problem.” An estimated 3.3 to 4.7 million men have sought treatment for infertility-related concerns in the United States. Just like in women, infertility in men can have multiple causes. This includes sperm or semen dysfunction that affects a person’s number of sperm, movement, and sperm shape. Another common cause of male infertility is varicocele, a condition that causes the veins in a man’s testicles to overheat, which affects the quality of a man’s sperm.
2. Ovulation Issues
Ovulation occurs when a woman’s body releases an egg from her ovaries. According to WomensHealth.gov, ovulation issues are the most common cause of female infertility. If a woman has irregular periods, she is typically having an ovulation concern, known as anovulation. There are several causes associated with anovulation. These include:
- Diminished ovarian reserve, where a woman’s ability to produce eggs is affected
- Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, where a woman doesn’t have her period due to stress
- Polycystic ovary syndrome, where a woman’s hormones are imbalanced and interfere with ovulation
- Premature ovarian insufficiency, a condition that is similar to early menopause
Ovulation concerns are more common in women who are age 35 and older. An estimated 33 percent of couples who experience fertility concerns in the United States are in women who are age 35 or older, according to WomensHealth.gov. Older age when trying to conceive can affect a woman’s ovary function as well as the number of eggs she has available.
Doctors can perform testing to determine if ovulation concerns may be contributing to infertility. Examples of these tests include follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), or antral follicle count (AFC).
3: Blocked Fallopian Tubes
While blocked Fallopian tubes aren’t as common a cause of female infertility, they are another potential cause associated with infertility. If the Fallopian tubes are blocked, an egg cannot travel to implant in the uterus. Common causes of blocked Fallopian tubes include pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or history of previous surgeries for an ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg fails to implant in the uterus. A history of sexually transmitted infections can increase a woman’s risk for pelvic inflammatory disease.
If a woman is trying to conceive and has a history of these health conditions, she should talk to her doctor about ways she could increase her chances of getting pregnant. There are many medications available that can treat fertility concerns as well as fertility techniques that increase a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. An example is intrauterine insemination, which is also known as artificial insemination. Assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization is also an option for women trying to get pregnant.