Fertility and Reproductive Health
Fertility is a person’s ability to conceive children. In general, when a woman is unable to get pregnant even after at least one year of unprotected sex, she is considered to have infertility and her doctor will begin evaluating the possible causes. Of course, infertility is not strictly a female problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 35 percent of couples who cannot conceive, the cause can be attributed to factors on both the female and male side. And in 8 percent of couples, the only cause that can be found is a male factor.
Infertility has several possible causes. In women, problems with ovarian function, obstructed fallopian tubes, or uterine abnormalities like fibroids are common causes. In men, infertility can be the result of disrupted testicular or ejaculatory function, or a hormonal or genetic condition.
In both men and women, factors that can contribute to infertility include age, smoking, alcohol and drug use, certain medications, cancer treatments, and certain medical conditions.
Women or men who are having trouble conceiving should ask their doctor for a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist, who can help identify the possible causes, recommend treatments, and discuss options including artificial insemination and assisted reproductive technology.