The common definition of infertility is the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of well-timed, unprotected intercourse. This delineation applies to couples where the female is under 36 years old, where both partners have not had histories of fertility-related issues. If the female partner is over 35 and has been unsuccessful in getting pregnant for over 6 months, a consultation with a fertility specialist for investigation and treatment should be considered. Women over age 39 should begin investigation and treatment after 3 months of well-timed intercourse.
To determine the cause of infertility, a full evaluation by a fertility specialist is required. Some common health disorders or medications taken can contribute to delayed conception.
In some cases, infertility may only be a temporary condition; it can be caused by a number of factors, such as lifestyle (bad habits), poor nutrition, toxins, environmental influences, or just poor timing.
There are two types of infertility:
Both men and women can have issues that cause infertility. In fact, up to half of all cases of infertility are due to male factor infertility.
Sterility is defined as the permanent inability to produce a child. There are numerous root causes of sterility. A person may have a genetic disorder, a structural defect, or a missing sexual organ. Complications from injury, surgery or disease may also cause sterility —mostly due to irreversible damage or severe scarring. In some cases, surgical removal of part of the reproductive organs may have been necessary (such as with cancer). Reproduction alternatives for couples in this situation may include egg or sperm donation, surrogacy or adoption.