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Infertility: When Is It a Problem?

The timing is perfect to begin your family. You’ve finished your college degrees, found the perfect home and feel secure in your careers. So you finally throw away your birth control pills and eagerly await a pink plus sign to appear — or not.

More than 10 to 15 percent of couples in the U.S. are infertile. This challenging — but treatable — condition affects both men and women. The term “infertility” encompasses many different physiological components, and the cause of one couple’s infertility can differ vastly from another’s. OhioHealth’s Gregory Lowe, M.D., provides more information about the causes of fertility and treatments to help couples.

What Causes Infertility?

Various lifestyle factors such as smoking, excess alcohol intake, and obesity increase the likelihood a couple is affected by infertility. While genetics play a role, just because your mother or father had infertility doesn’t raise your chances, Lowe says. Other conditions that commonly affect fertility include polycystic ovarian syndrome in females or low testosterone in men.
So if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than six months unsuccessfully, schedule an appointment with your obstetrician or urologist. Lowe says it’s better to see your doctor sooner, especially if the female is over the age of 35. Fertility decreases after age 25, and vastly declines after age 40. Seeking treatment just one year sooner can make a significant difference in the likelihood of the couple conceiving, he says.

Treatment Options

Depending on the length of time you’ve been trying to get pregnant, your doctor’s course of treatment will be tailored to your specific causes of infertility. Before beginning invasive testing or treatments, couples should try over-the-counter sperm and ovulation tests, Lowe says. After six months, your doctor may recommend other treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), among others. Read about various treatment options available here.

How to Cope

Dealing with infertility can cause stress, and this increased stress can also affect the possibility of conceiving. If you or your partner feels overwhelmed, talk to your doctor and seek counseling during this process. It can be sad, challenging and also expensive as you are seeking infertility treatment. Support groups or individualized counseling can help.

If you are struggling with infertility, OhioHealth is here to help. Set up an appointment to speak to one of our infertility experts today.