The Infertility FAQ

Q. What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after a year of regular unprotected intercourse, or the inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth.

Q. What causes infertility?

Most infertility results from physical problems in either the male partner’s or the female partner’s reproductive system, or both. Some causes include problems with

  • The man’s reproductive system
  • The woman’s fallopian tubes
  • The woman’s uterus and / or cervix
  • The woman’s ovulation.
  • Unknown reasons

Q. How many couples are affected by infertility?

One in six couples are affected by some degree of infertility and need some kind of medical intervention for conception.

Q. How does natural conception occur?

Naturally conception occurs when the male’s sperm meets the woman’s egg. This typically takes place in one of the woman’s fallopian tubes and the fertilized egg then travels to the uterus and is implanted in the uterine lining. For pregnancy to take place, fertilization of the egg must be followed by a successful implantation. Only one egg is released for fertilization in each menstrual cycle. If this egg is not fertilized, conception will not be possible again until the next cycle.

Q: How is infertility diagnosed?

A complete medical history and a physical exam are the first step in diagnosing fertility problems. Both partners need to be evaluated. The couple may also need blood tests, semen analysis and ultrasound exams or exploratory surgery for the woman.

Q. How is infertility in a woman treated?

Once the cause for infertility is determined, treatment can be planned. Sometimes, simple counseling or simple medication will solve the problem. In some cases, surgery is required.

Q. How is infertility in a man treated?

Problems in the male reproductive organs can often be resolved with medication and, if required, with surgery.

Q. What increases a man’s risks of infertility?

Sperm quality and quantity can be affected by overall health and lifestyle. Some things that may reduce sperm number and / or quality include alcohol, drugs, stress, environmental toxins, smoking, health problems, certain medicines, radio or chemotherapy and age.

Q. What increases a woman’s risk of infertility?

Things that affect woman’s fertility include age, stress, poor diet, obesity, underweight, smoking, STDs, hormonal problems and other health problems.

Q. How does age affect woman’s fertility?

For woman

  • The quality of eggs in the ovaries decline with age.
  • The ability of an egg to become fertilized may also decrease over time, lowering the odds of conception
  • A woman produces fewer eggs with time.
  • Over time, changes in hormones can cause difficulties with ovulation. Miscarriage rates increase with age.

Q. Is infertility hereditary?

Most infertility problems are not hereditary.

Q. How successful are infertility treatments? 

Improvements in medication, surgery and ART make pregnancy possible for a majority of the couples pursuing treatments. Success rates have drastically improved for couples taking treatment under ART. There are various factors which influence success in ART. On an average, the success rates with IUI is around 15-20% & 40-50% with IVF.

Read more about infertility and treatment FAQ here.