Infertility is not being able to conceive after a year of trying. This means having regular, unprotected sex. About one-third of cases are caused by male factors. An equal number are caused by female factors. In the remaining cases, the cause is unknown or is due to problems with both partners.
Tell your doctor if you have any of the above risk factors.
After one year of trying to conceive, you and your partner should get help.
During the first visit, you will both be evaluated. The doctor will ask about symptoms, medical history, and work history. Chemicals at your job could have an effect. Your doctor will look for physical problems that might cause infertility.
The following tests will be done:
Blood tests—to find out the levels of different hormones that play a role in sperm development, including:
Follicle stimulating hormone
Amount of semen
Consistency of semen
Number of sperm
Movement of sperm
Shape of sperm
"Clumping" of sperm
Presence of substances other than sperm in the semen
—a test that uses sound waves to examine structures inside the body; transrectal ultrasound may be done to look for any enlarged vein around the testicles
—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
Fertilization tests—to determine how well the sperm can penetrate an egg
—removal of a sample of testicle tissue for testing
Post-coital test—to check if your sperm is compatible with the mucus in your partner's cervix
Treatment depends on what is causing the condition. Treatments can be costly and lengthy. They often are not covered by insurance.
If you have a hormonal imbalance, your doctor may prescribe medication.
Surgery is done for conditions like varicocele. Though, a treated varicocele does not restore fertility. Surgery can be done to reverse
. But, this is not always successful.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
ART involves using human sperm and eggs or embryos in a lab to help with conception. The eggs and sperm can be from you and your partner or donated. ART methods include:
Artificial insemination—Semen is collected and processed in a lab. It is then inserted directly into the woman's cervix or uterus.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
—An egg is removed from the woman's body and mixed with sperm in a lab. The egg and sperm mixture or a 2-3 day old embryo is then placed in the uterus.
Gamete or zygote intrafallopian transfer (GIFT or ZIFT)—An egg is removed from the woman's body and mixed with sperm in a lab. The egg and sperm mixture or a 2-3 day old embryo is then placed in the fallopian tube.
Blastocyst intrafallopian transfer—An egg is removed from the woman's body, injected with sperm, and allowed to develop. It is later implanted into the uterus.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection—A single sperm is injected into the egg. The resulting embryo can be implanted into the uterus or frozen for later use.
Infertility cannot always be prevented. But the following steps may help:
Use of tobacco, marijuana, opiates, and anabolic steroids
Jorgensen N, Carlsen E, Nermoen I, et al. East-West gradient in semen quality in the Nordic-Baltic area: a study of men from the general population in Denmark, Norway, Estonia and Finland.
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