Broadly speaking, a couple is termed as Infertile if they have indulged in regular intercourse for 12 months or more without birth control and have not become pregnant. Birth control includes birth control pills, diaphragm and/or condoms. For women over the age of 35 years, a lack of pregnancy after 6 months of intercourse without birth control indicates Infertility. “Infertility” differs from “Sterility” in that in the latter the problem is irreversible and the couple cannot become pregnant. Infertility generally represents a reduced potential for pregnancy.
Most couples, when they get married, anticipate that they will have no difficulty in starting a family. In the majority, this is true. However, 15% of couples are unable to achieve a pregnancy for a variety of reasons.
Common causes of infertility include infrequent ovulation, which may be caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), being under or over weight, or simply a woman’s age, which can affect the regularity and quality of eggs available for fertilization. A woman may also have a problem with her fallopian tubes, such as blockages or infection.
Increasingly, women choose to postpone starting a family until later life. While this may suit many modern careers and lifestyles, it introduces the risk that age can affect a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant. After 35, a woman is half as fertile as she was when she was 25 and this figure continues to decline the older she gets.
So when should you seek advice and treatment? In general, it is appropriate to see a physician for medical assistance after 12 months of trying to get pregnant on your own. It is advised to see a specialist sooner if:
- The female partner is over 35 years old
- You have a condition that is a known risk factor for fertility problems, irregular
menstrual cycles, Endometriosis, PCOS etc.
- You have experienced recurrent miscarriages after natural conception
- You are aware of a genetic disease that is inherited in your family