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Living Well

5 Common Questions About Infertility

5 Common Questions About Infertility

If you’ve been trying to conceive but aren’t getting pregnant, you may be wondering whether it’s time to talk with a health care provider. About one in eight couples in the U.S. experience fertility problems. Make an appointment with an obstetrician, midwife, or a reproductive endocrinologist. Together, you can discuss the next steps you should take toward growing your family. Meanwhile, here are answers to a few questions that may be on your mind.

1. When should I consider being evaluated for infertility?

You may want to consider an infertility evaluation if you:

  • Aren’t pregnant after having regular, unprotected sex for one year
  • Are a woman who’s older than 35 years old and aren’t pregnant after having regular, unprotected sex for six months
  • Don’t have a regular menstrual cycle

2. Should my partner be evaluated for infertility, too?

Yes. Infertility is just as likely to be due to the male partner as it is the female partner. It’s also equally likely that it’s due to problems with both partners or for a reason that cannot be determined.

3. What’s involved in an evaluation for infertility?

A woman may receive several different tests when being evaluated for infertility. They may include:

  • A urine test to measure levels of a certain hormone that can show if and when she ovulates
  • A blood test to measure levels of different hormones involved in ovulation and fertility
  • Imaging tests, if needed, to look at reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes and uterus to make sure there aren’t any issues affecting her fertility

An infertility test for a man usually involves a semen analysis to check his sperm. If there’s a problem with his sperm or there are other concerns, he may need to have an ultrasound to check whether there are any problems with the ducts or tubes through which semen travels.

4. Is there anything I can do to improve my fertility?

Certain lifestyle factors can affect your fertility. If you’re a woman, being overweight or underweight, exercising excessively, drinking lots of alcohol, and smoking cigarettes can make it more difficult to get pregnant. If you’re a man, smoking, heavy drinking, using marijuana, and taking anabolic steroids can reduce your sperm count or lead to erectile dysfunction.

5. What treatment options are available for infertility?

There are many different treatments for infertility. If you decide to pursue treatment, your plan will depend on the cause of your infertility. A wide range of oral and injectable medicines can help women with ovulation problems ovulate. With a procedure called intrauterine insemination (IUI), a woman takes medicines to stimulate ovulation and then sperm are inserted into her uterus. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is an advanced fertility treatment in which eggs are surgically removed from a woman’s ovaries, combined with sperm in the laboratory, and then transferred back to the woman’s body. There are several different types of ARTs. The most well-known is in vitro fertilization (IVF). Together, you and your doctor will determine which treatments may work best for you.