Infertility is the inability to conceive despite unprotected intercourse for 12 months. It affects about 10% of couples.
In about 30% of cases, the cause of the infertility is found in the male partner. There may be a low sperm count, malformations of the sperm, hormone imbalances, or blockages in the passageway for sperm. Most of these abnormalities can be discovered through a semen analysis, when a sample of semen is evaluated under a microscope.
The cause of infertility can be identified in the female partner in 30% of the cases as well. Women may be infertile if they do not ovulate every month, if the quality of the eggs is low because of their age, or if they have any physical blockages in their uterus or tubes. Your doctor can test your hormone levels and do special X-rays and ultrasounds to discover the problem.
In the rest of the cases ( nearly 40%), the cause of the infertility cannot be determined.
A basic fertility evaluation consists of:
- Semen analysis
- Hormonal blood tests to check the ovarian function (FSH, estradiol, AMH)
- Hormonal blood test to confirm ovulation (progesterone)
- X-ray called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to evaluate any blockages or growths in the uterus or tubes
Treatment of infertility depends on its cause. Medications can be used to encourage ovulation. Surgery can be performed to correct uterine or tubal problems. Intrauterine insemination can be done if sperm count is an issue. Ultimately the decision on treatment will be between you and your doctor or fertility specialist.