Infertility

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Quick GuideInfertility: Types, Treatments, and Costs

Infertility: Types, Treatments, and Costs

Is infertility a common problem?

Yes. About 6% of married women 15-44 years of age in the United States are unable to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex (infertility).

Also, about 12% of women 15-44 years of age in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, regardless of marital status (impaired fecundity).

Is infertility just a woman's problem?

No, infertility is not always a woman's problem. Both men and women contribute to infertility.

Many couples struggle with infertility and seek help to become pregnant; however, it is often thought of as only a women's condition. A CDC study analyzed data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and found that 7.5% of all sexually experienced men younger than age 45 reported seeing a fertility doctor during their lifetime - this equals 3.3-4.7 million men. Of men who sought help, 18% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%).

What causes infertility in men?

Infertility in men can be caused by different factors and is typically evaluated by a semen analysis. A specialist will evaluate the number of sperm (concentration), motility (movement), and morphology (shape). A slightly abnormal semen analysis does not mean that a man is necessarily infertile. Instead, a semen analysis helps determine if and how male factors are contributing to infertility.

Conditions that can contribute to abnormal semen analyses include -

  • Varicoceles, a condition in which the veins on a man's testicles are large and cause them to overheat. The heat may affect the number or shape of the sperm.
  • Medical conditions or exposures such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, trauma, infection, testicular failure, or treatment with chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Unhealthy habits such as heavy alcohol use, testosterone supplementation, smoking, anabolic steroid use, and illicit drug use.
  • Environmental toxins including exposure to pesticides and lead.

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