What is infertility?
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse. It affects about 1 in 6 Australian couples of reproductive age.
Causes of infertility are many and varied and involve male, female or a combination of factors. This includes problems with the production of sperm or eggs, the structure or function of male or female reproductive systems; and/or hormonal and immune conditions.
In 40% of couples the cause of infertility is attributed to a sperm factor, in another 40% the cause is found within the female reproductive system, and a third will have a combination of male and female factors.
- Causes of female infertility
- Causes of male infertility
Male fertility can be affected by problems with sperm production or the transport process such as:
- Blocked / absent vas deferens (tubes)
- Low sperm number and/or poor sperm production
- High numbers of abnormally shaped sperm
- Failure of sperm production
- Anti-sperm antibodies
- Sperm DNA fragmentation
- Genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal variation
- How do you test fertility?
A fertility specialist can assess your overall reproductive health and conduct some simple tests to identify any underlying causes of pregnancy delay.
For women fertility tests typically include some blood tests and ultrasounds to check for ovulation, specific fertility conditions and ovarian reserve. Some additional tests may be needed to check your fallopian tubes and condition of the uterus. Read more about female fertility tests...
The most important fertility test for men is a semen analysis which measures the number of sperm, motility and morphology in a sample. Read more about semen analysis...
- How do you treat infertility?
Following some routine tests and investigations, your fertility specialist can formulate a personalised treatment plan with you, beginning, where possible, with the simplest most natural options.
There is a wide variety of fertility treatment options available including:
- When should you seek help?
A woman’s age is the single most important factor affecting a couple’s chances of conceiving. That’s why it is strongly recommended you seek assistance after 6 months of trying if you are over the age of 35, and after 12 months of trying if you are under 35.
Seeing a fertility specialist is not necessarily a fast track to IVF. A fertility specialist can conduct simple fertility tests to find out what’s happening, explore all your options and help you fall pregnant sooner.
Problems falling pregnant?
What's the next step?
Appointments are available in the next couple of weeks and will cost approximately $150 for a couple after the Medicare rebate.