“Yeah, I’ve heard of it, but what does it mean exactly?”
Infertility is a term that simply means a couple is unable to conceive and achieve a pregnancy after the course of a year with well timed, unprotected intercourse. Basically, if you are not using contraceptives and are trying to get pregnant, but fail to do so within that first year of trying…you are dealing with infertility. The term also applies to couples who are able to achieve pregnancies, but then each pregnancy ends in miscarriage repeatedly never resulting in a live birth. It can also apply to someone who has conceived and given birth to a child, but then has a difficult time conceiving or carrying to term the next time around, called secondary infertility.
Infertility is not a curse, a punishment or a reason to feel ashamed. It is a medical condition. It is a result of a body system not doing what we expect from it, but to no fault of our own. Being infertile does not mean that you are not meant to be a parent or to raise children. It does mean parenthood may be a little more challenging to achieve than it is for others.
Infertility is not just a woman’s problem.
A woman’s reproductive system is more complex than a man’s. Therefore, there are more things that can go wrong with a women’s body causing infertility and there are more medical conditions related to infertility. Surprisingly however, men and women alike contribute to infertility issues equally. In about a third of couples with infertility it is the woman’s body, in about another third of cases it is the man’s body, and in the remaining one third of couples it is both partners’ bodies. So, essentially it is a fifty-fifty problem in terms of male verses female. Anyone can suffer.
Having a diagnosis of infertility does not automatically mean you will never conceive or give birth to a child, and it certainly does not mean you will never be a mommy or daddy. Many couples who are facing infertility go on to become parents, either biologically or through other avenues. It does mean there is something going on medically with your or your spouse’s body and it’s time to investigate with an infertility specialist to determine what you are dealing with.
I highly suggest meeting with an infertility specialist if you suspect you are dealing with infertility, even if there is no desire to follow up with infertility treatments to achieve a pregnancy. There are medical conditions that could be discovered that are causing the infertility and an infertility workup could save your health. The reasons for infertility can vary significantly from couple to couple and to complicate things, there may be more than one reason for the infertility. A specialist can help provide answers, give you options to achieve parenthood and even offer you closure to the infertility situation you have been facing. If you have been having unprotected intercourse for over a year attempting to get pregnant, follow up. Note that if you are over the age of 35 and trying to get pregnant, the recommendations are to see a medical professional after only six months of unprotected intercourse without achieving a pregnancy.
If you think you are facing infertility, the sooner you investigate the better your odds. Fertility declines with age. Don’t allow denial to steal precious time away from you.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see a medical professional if you think you are dealing with infertility or a medical condition that could result in infertility.