What is Infertility?


While it may seem like so many people have little to no trouble conceiving a child, it may surprise you to discover that almost one in five couples struggle with infertility.

But what is infertility? And what challenges does it pose?

Whilst infertility is a fairly common problem people around the globe face, it´s shocking and nothing short of devastating when a couple is faces it themselves. Fertility issues often lead to feelings of guilt or even shame for some people, making it difficult to know when to seek professional help on how to interpret their new-found situation.

In this article, we face infertility head on and answer the question “What is Infertility”?

What is infertility and its definition?

Infertility is typically defined as “a disease of the reproductive system, defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more despite regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.”

As you can see, a question as simple as “What is infertility” may not be as straightforward and easily explained as first thought. Infertility can be a consequence of previous health problems, experienced by one or both partners and while there are many common reasons why couples experience problems with fertility, definitive infertility can be caused by any number of things which affect the health and well-being of either intending parent.

What is infertility: Effects

The effects of infertility are two-fold: The first effect is the impact of whatever problem or disease that causes infertility has on the person experiencing it, and the second is the impact that it has on the mental and physical well-being of that family.

Depending on the causative factor, one particular complication may, in turn, lead to other health problems other than just infertility. Certain diseases and health problems which result in infertility can pose additional health risks to the intended mother or father. For example, a person with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease may not only experience infertility problems, but can also experience extreme and chronic abdominal pain, or intermittent fevers.

Despite infertility being a common problem for many expectant parents, the emotional effects of struggling with infertility can be tremendously difficult. Knowing to ask for professional help, the treatments available, the costs of these treatments, and the inherent disappointment if the initial treatments don´t work, is possibly overwhelming. Finally having an answer to our question “What is infertility” can offer parents peace of mind. It is also an important building block in assisting and supporting couples who are working towards their goal of creating a family. Knowing what it is that defines your particular difficulty with fertility will help guide you toward the right practitioners for specialized treatment.

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What is infertility: Causes

As we discussed at the beginning of this article, infertility can be caused by any number of things.

However, the most common causes of infertility include:

  • Any damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovaries. This can arise from trauma or diseases such as:
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Blocked Fallopian tubes
  • Asherman’s Syndrome
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Any cancer of the reproductive organs
  • Ovulation Disorders. Ovulation disorders can be a result of hormone imbalances. Some issues being congenital and others the cause is poor lifestyle choices or previous health problems. Low Sperm Count or poor motility. While asking ourselves “What is infertility” it is paramount to remember that problems can arise with either parent. Low sperm count, or a problem with how mobility or motility are also common male infertility
  • Any damage to the testicles, Vas Deferens, Epididymis, or other male reproductive organs.

These can be caused by disease, trauma, or again can be problems which are present from birth.

While these are just a few of the more common causes of infertility, there are many more. Some affect both partners at the same time. About 15% of couples are diagnosed with “Unexplained Infertility”. This is a type of infertility where there is no obvious cause. It’s important for couples to remember, however, that despite the cause of their infertility, many treatments and options are available to help all couples realize the joy of parenthood.

What is infertility? Diagnosis

While this may seem a bit obvious, the only way for your family to appropriately answer the question of “What is Infertility?” is to find out what infertility means for you. If you’ve experienced multiple miscarriages, have been trying to get pregnant for a year or more unsuccessfully, or you’re a woman over the age of 35 and haven’t been able to conceive following six months of unprotected sex – it’s time to see a specialist and look for a diagnosis.

Diagnoses for infertility are generally given following a few appointments with a specialist. On the first appointment, expect questions about your general health and sexual habits. Occasionally physicians may be able to make recommendations based on this information alone. At this point, it’s not unusual for your provider to ask you to undergo several exams. For example, a pelvic exam, semen analysis or undergo some initial blood tests. Following your first analysis, additional analyses will be scheduled based on the results of these tests.  Your provider will discuss the results and their implications with you as information is gathered. This is also a good time to discuss any questions you have.

What is infertility? Available treatment

It’s important to remember that whatever the cause of your infertility, nowadays there are many different options and treatments available to you. Don’t discourage early on. Learning to deal with and understand infertility can be a very difficult road. There are providers out there that are devoting their lives to ensure that you have options. Doing your research on fertility rates and infertility statistics should also help you get to grips with your own individual situation in a broader context.

For more information about what fertility treatments are available to you visit our blog. Our goal is to help couples realize their dreams of becoming parents. To find out more about Delivering Dreams and any services we offer, please visit our homepage.

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