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Dealing With Fertility Problems

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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If you have been trying to get pregnant for a year or more (or six months or more if you are 35 or older), you may want to visit your doctor to discuss your fertility. Achieving a pregnancy requires a rather complex chain of events to fall in place, and if one piece of that chain is not functioning properly, there are many fertility treatments that can help you to become pregnant.

While a few women easily get pregnant soon after they start trying and others are able to get pregnant after they figure out how to time intercourse to ovulation, millions of women face fertility problems. Infertility affects more than six million Americans, or 10% of the reproductive-age population.

You should schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss your fertility if you:

  • Are under age 35 and have not been able to get pregnant after a year of frequent sex without birth control
  • Are age 35 or older and have not been able to get pregnant after six months of frequent sex without birth control
  • Have reason to believe you or your partner may have fertility problems, even before trying to get pregnant

MedicationsThere are a variety of medications that can be used to treat infertility. Many of these medications can be effectively used to treat women with ovulation problems. Your doctor will explain the medication options that will be of most benefit to you.
SurgeryOften, surgery can be performed to treat male or female infertility, especially if it is due to a structural problem (e.g., damage to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus).
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)Intrauterine insemination, or artificial insemination, involves injecting a woman with sperm from her husband or sperm donor. IUI is often used in conjunction with ovulation-stimulation medications.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)In IVF, medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs that are removed when they are mature. The eggs are cultured in a dish with sperm, and fertilized eggs are placed into the woman’s uterus or fallopian tubes.
Donated gametes (reproductive cells) or embryosIf a woman or man has problems producing eggs or sperm, or if they have genetic problems that could be passed on to offspring, donated eggs, sperm, or embryos, in conjunction with IVF, can be used to achieve a pregnancy.
SurrogacyIf a woman is unable to carry a pregnancy or cannot safely carry a pregnancy, a surrogate carrier may be used. In surrogacy, an embryo is placed in the surrogate, who carries the pregnancy until birth and then gives the baby to the parents.


Fertility awareness and infertility. National Women’s Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/Pregnancy/infertility.cfm . Accessed August 3, 2005.

Infertility. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/173_14308.asp . Accessed August 3, 2005.

Pregnancy after 35. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/173_14008.asp . Accessed August 3, 2005.

Understanding your treatment options. The National Infertility Association website. Available at: http://www.resolve.org/main/national/treatment/options/index.jsp?name=treatment&tag=options . Accessed August 3, 2005


Healthy Pregnancy
National Women’s Health Information Center

National Infertility Association

Last reviewed May 2007 by Jeff Andrews, MD, FRCSC, FACOG

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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