Infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (and there is no other reason, such as breastfeeding or postpartum amenorrhoea). Primary infertility is infertility in a couple who have never had a child. Secondary infertility is failure to conceive following a previous pregnancy. Infertility may be caused by infection in the man or woman, but often there is no obvious underlying cause.
These time intervals would seem to be reversed; this is an area where public policy trumps science. The idea is that for women beyond age 35, every month counts and if made to wait another six months to prove the necessity of medical intervention, the problem could become worse. The corollary to this is that, by definition, failure to conceive in women under 35 isn't regarded with the same urgency as it is in those over 35.
Since marriage is a contract between the wife and husband during the span of their marriage, no third party should intrude into the marital functions of sex and procreation. This means that a third party donor is not acceptable, whether he or she is providing sperm, eggs, embryos, or a uterus. The use of a third party is tantamount to zina, or adultery.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after you’ve already had a baby, and it's more common than you might think, accounting for about 50 percent of infertility cases. In fact, more couples experience secondary infertility than primary infertility (infertility the first time around). It’s especially common in women who wait until their late 30s or even 40s, when fertility takes a nosedive, to have their second babies.
This chart is US national average data on success rates per IVF cycle by female age for 2014. The dark blue line (triangles) shows pregnancy rates per cycle by age. The orange line (circles) shows live birth rates per cycle by age. The rate of singleton live births per cycle is shown by the light blue line. The difference between "pregnancy" rate and "live birth" rate is due to miscarriages.
Limited long-term follow-up data suggest that IVF may be associated with an increased incidence of hypertension, impaired fasting glucose, increase in total body fat composition, advancement of bone age, subclinical thyroid disorder, early adulthood clinical depression and binge drinking in the offspring.[53][55] It is not known, however, whether these potential associations are caused by the IVF procedure in itself, by adverse obstetric outcomes associated with IVF, by the genetic origin of the children or by yet unknown IVF-associated causes.[53][55] Increases in embryo manipulation during IVF result in more deviant fetal growth curves, but birth weight does not seem to be a reliable marker of fetal stress.[56]
Cancer. Although some early studies suggested there may be a link between certain medications used to stimulate egg growth and the development of a specific type of ovarian tumor, more-recent studies do not support these findings. There does not appear to be a significantly increased risk of breast, endometrial, cervical or ovarian cancer after IVF.
Egg Development – This step is either part of the woman’s natural egg development or stimulated with medications and lasts roughly 5-14 days. Once your follicles are optimal size, a trigger medication may be given to finalize egg maturation and trigger ovulation. This phase of egg development may or may not be accompanied by ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring.
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The Fallopian tubes are the site for fertilization before the embryo makes its way to the uterine cavity for implantation. If the Fallopian tubes are damaged, fertilization may not occur. If one Fallopian tube is blocked, it may be due to inherent disease involving both Fallopian tubes; even if the other Fallopian tube is open, it may not be able to provide the appropriate nurturing environment for fertilization and early embryo growth to take place.

I used to have a neighbour I would do almost anything to avoid. An elderly lady, she was given to jam-making, church-going and patrolling the local streets. If I saw her coming, I would dive back inside my front door or seize my son's hand and gallop to our car. I once twisted my ankle in an effort to escape her. Whenever she saw me she would utter the words, "If you don't get your skates on and give that child a brother or sister he's going to be a lonely only." Even now, it's hard to say what was more loathsome. Was it the boisterous intrusion of her tone, the inexcusability of the phrase "lonely only", or the idea of strapping on skates as a euphemism for – what exactly? Unprotected sex?


The consequences of infertility are manifold and can include societal repercussions and personal suffering. Advances in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can offer hope to many couples where treatment is available, although barriers exist in terms of medical coverage and affordability. The medicalization of infertility has unwittingly led to a disregard for the emotional responses that couples experience, which include distress, loss of control, stigmatization, and a disruption in the developmental trajectory of adulthood.[15] One of the main challenges in assessing the distress levels in women with infertility is the accuracy of self-report measures. It is possible that women “fake good” in order to appear mentally healthier than they are. It is also possible that women feel a sense of hopefulness/increased optimism prior to initiating infertility treatment, which is when most assessments of distress are collected. Some early studies concluded that infertile women did not report any significant differences in symptoms of anxiety and depression than fertile women. The further into treatment a patient goes, the more often they display symptoms of depression and anxiety. Patients with one treatment failure had significantly higher levels of anxiety, and patients with two failures experienced more depression when compared with those without a history of treatment. However, it has also been shown that the more depressed the infertile woman, the less likely she is to start infertility treatment and the more likely she is to drop out after only one cycle. Researchers have also shown that despite a good prognosis and having the finances available to pay for treatment, discontinuation is most often due to psychological reasons.[16]

Cancer. Although some early studies suggested there may be a link between certain medications used to stimulate egg growth and the development of a specific type of ovarian tumor, more-recent studies do not support these findings. There does not appear to be a significantly increased risk of breast, endometrial, cervical or ovarian cancer after IVF.


Obesity: The obesity epidemic has recently become is a serious issue, particularly in industrialized nations. The rising number of obese individuals may be due in part to an energy-rich diet as well as insufficient physical exercise.  In addition to other potential health risks, obesity can have a significant impact on male and female fertility. BMI (body mass index) may be a significant factor in fertility, as an increase in BMI in the male by as little as three units can be associated with infertility. Several studies have demonstrated that an increase in BMI is correlated with a decrease in sperm concentration, a decrease in motility and an increase DNA damage in sperm. A relationship also exists between obesity and erectile dysfunction (ED). ED may be the consequence of the conversion of androgens to estradiol. The enzyme aromatase is responsible for this conversion, and is found primarily in adipose tissue. As the amount of adipose tissue increases, there is more aromatase available to convert androgens, and serum estradiol levels increase. Other hormones including inhibin B and leptin, may also be affected by obesity. Inhibin B levels have been reported to decrease with increasing weight, which results in decreased Sertoli cells and sperm production. Leptin is a hormone associated with numerous effects including appetite control, inflammation, and decreased insulin secretion, according to many studies. Obese women have a higher rate of recurrent, early miscarriage compared to non-obese women.
This information is designed as an educational aid to patients and sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care, nor does it comprise all proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for a treating clinician’s independent professional judgment. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.

Infertility may have psychological effects. Partners may become more anxious to conceive, increasing sexual dysfunction.[17] Marital discord often develops, especially when they are under pressure to make medical decisions. Women trying to conceive often have depression rates similar to women who have heart disease or cancer.[18] Emotional stress and marital difficulties are greater in couples where the infertility lies with the man.[19]

Infertility is a medical condition, and a fertility specialist can help with thorough, focused examinations directed at discovering the underlying cause. For every couple that begins an evaluation, about 35% discover that there is an issue with the man which is contributing to the couple’s infertility. 50% is related to female factor while 5% is due to rare causes. The remaining 10% (1 in 5 couples) is due to unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up.(2)

^ Baker VL, Luke B, Brown MB, Alvero R, Frattarelli JL, Usadi R, et al. (September 2010). "Multivariate analysis of factors affecting probability of pregnancy and live birth with in vitro fertilization: an analysis of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcomes Reporting System". Fertility and Sterility. 94 (4): 1410–6. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.07.986. PMID 19740463.
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