If you have been trying to get pregnant for a year or more (6 months or more if you are 35 or older), you may want to visit your doctor. Getting pregnant requires a complex chain of events to fall into place. If one piece of that chain is not occurring properly, then you may not be able to get pregnant. Your doctor may help you address parts of the chain you are having trouble with.
Few can easily get pregnant soon after they start trying. Though it is not always talked about, many people face fertility problems. 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 6 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
There are a number of factors that affect infertility. In women, fertility can be affected by things like:
- Increased age, especially in women after age 35
- Conditions like uterine fibroids or endometriosis
- Pelvic inflammatory disease or Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Premature ovarian failure (POF), luteal phase defect (LPD)
- Smoking or alcohol use
- Being extremely underweight or overweight
- Strenuous exercise or eating disorders
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Fertility in men may be affected by:
- Increased age—can be linked to problems with the shape and movement of sperm
- Alcohol or drug use
- Prostate surgery and testicle injuries
Treatment options can depend on what is causing the problem. The table below lists some of the most common fertility treatments.
|Medications||A variety of medications can be used to treat infertility. Many can address ovulation problems. Your doctor will explain the medication options that will be of most benefit to you.|
|Surgery||Surgery can help both male or female infertility issues. It is most helpful for structural problem such as damage to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus.|
|Intrauterine insemination (IUI)||IUI or artificial insemination injects sperm into the uterus. It is often done along with medications to encourage ovulation.|
|In vitro fertilization (IVF)||Medications are used to encourage the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The eggs are removed when they are mature. They are cultured in a dish with sperm. Fertilized eggs are placed into the woman’s uterus or fallopian tubes.|
|Donated gametes (reproductive cells) or embryos||A woman or man may have problems producing eggs or sperm. They may also wish to avoid genetic problems that could be passed on to offspring. Donated eggs, sperm, or embryos can be used to achieve a pregnancy. It is done through IVF.|
|Surrogacy||A surrogate carrier may be used if someone is unable to carry a pregnancy to term. An embryo is placed in the surrogate. The embryo may be made from parents egg and sperm or from donors. They then carry the pregnancy until birth and give the baby to the parents.|
National Infertility Association
Office on Women's Health
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Evaluating infertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq136.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20121226T0618408458. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Infertility. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Treating infertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq137.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20121226T0617520655. Accessed January 29, 2021.
What is infertility? The National Infertility Association website. Available at: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 1/29/2021