What is infertility?

What is infertility?

In general, infertility is typically defined as the inability to get pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse, with the intention of conceiving. Infertility can arise from a male, female or a combination of these factors.


Causes of infertility:

There are several factors that can contribute to female infertility, including:

  • Age
  • Abnormal menstruation
  • Endometriosis or ovulation problems
  • Weight
  • Lifestyle choices, e.g. smoking
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Problems with fallopian tubes
  • Fibroids
  • Terminal illness

Male infertility can be affected by several factors, including:

  • Low sperm count
  • Poor sperm production
  • High numbers of abnormally shaped sperm
  • Problems with tubes that connect to the testes (vas deferens)
  • Genetic diseases, e.g. chromosomal variation or cystic fibrosis
  • Injury to scrotum or testicles


How do you test for infertility?

You’re not alone, about 1 in 6 Australian couples within reproductive age groups experience fertility problems. Testing for infertility can be easy to detect, particularly when working with a fertility specialist. For women, this may include tests like blood tests, ultrasounds, low AMH testing and general checking of the condition of the fallopian tubes and uterus. For men, the most important fertility testing is semen analysis.


When should you seek help?

A woman’s age is the most important factor affecting the chances of a couple being able to conceive.Although 12 months of trying and being unable to conceive is a recommendation, once over 35 years old, it is strongly recommended to seek assistance after 6 months of trying. There are several other options that a fertility specialist may consider with you once over the 35 year old mark, including IVF for over 40s. 

When considering seeking help, know that IVF is not always the immediate solution to solving infertility. There is a wide variety of other fertility treatment options available including:

  • Ovulation cycle tracking – helps confirm and pinpoint the most fertile window within the menstrual cycle
  • Medical intervention – helps encourage ovulation with medications
  • Fertility surgery
  • Artificial insemination 


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