Infertility Explained

What is infertility?

Infertility is the abnormal functioning of the male or female reproductive system. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize infertility as a disease.

One third (30%) of infertility can be attributed to male factors, and about one third (30%) can be attributed to female factors. In about 20% of cases infertility is unexplained, and the remaining 20% of infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.

Infertility affects approximately 10% of the population. Like many diseases, it crosses all socioeconomic levels, all races, and ethnicities. It is likely that a friend, relative or co-worker has struggled with infertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. If you are over the age of 35, that time is reduced to 6 months. If you have had more than one miscarriage or have a history of any of the symptoms listed below, contact our specialists – no matter how long you have been trying:

• painful or irregular periods
• difficulty determining your ovulation
• under or overweight
• endometriosis

Infertility can make you feel isolated as a couple and even come between you and your partner. You are not alone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 7.3 million Americans, or 1 in 8 couples of childbearing, age are infertile. This is often an uncomfortable thing to talk about because of the personal nature of the subject. By speaking with one of our physicians, you will be taking a step towards gaining some control over a condition that leaves many people feeling powerless.

Below is a list of the most common causes of infertility:

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a disorder of the female reproductive system in which endometrial tissue (the normal lining of the uterus) is found outside the uterine cavity. An estimated three to five million American women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis.

Endometrial Receptivity

Abnormalities in endometrial development and luteal phase defect (LPD) are associated with infertility and early miscarriage. When the endometrium is inadequately prepared, either because the secretion of estrogen and progesterone by the ovary is below normal or because the endometrium isn’t responding to the normal stimulation of estrogen and progesterone, luteal phase defect occurs.

Male Factor

30% of infertility is due to a male problem such as sperm production disorders, structural abnormalities, ejaculatory disturbances and immunologic disorders.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

If you have experienced two or more miscarriages we recommend you see one of our specialists for further testing.

Ovulatory Disorders

Ovulation disorders account for approximately 30% of female infertility problems. There are several factors that can affect ovulation, including pituitary causes.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

One of the most common hormone disorders in women and a leading cause of infertility, PCOS is often under-diagnosed. This is due to its multitude of seemingly unrelated symptoms that may include irregular or absent periods, lack of ovulation, weight gain, acne, excessive facial hair and infertility. PCOS may put women at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and endometrial cancer, especially if left untreated.

Diminished Ovarian Reserve

Defined as the inability to respond appropriately to fertility medications both in terms of the number of follicles produced and the health of the eggs.

Premature Ovarian Failure

Premature ovarian failure means a woman no longer has menstrual periods before the age of 40. It occurs in 1 in 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 29 and 1 in 100 women between the ages of 30 and 39. The average age of onset is 27 years.

Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of a biological child.

Unexplained Infertility

Despite a full infertility work-up, approximately one in five couples will experience unexplained infertility. While painful and frustrating to hear that there is no clear cut reason to explain infertility, there are more options available now than ever before.

Uterine Factors

Uterine abnormalities can significantly impact a woman’s ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. Some women have an abnormally developed uterus from birth (congenital) while others may develop a uterine problem due to infection or surgery (acquired).