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Quick GuideConception: The Amazing Journey from Egg to Embryo
Fertility and Infertility
In women, the term is used to describe those who are of normal childbearing age, not those who can't get pregnant because they are near or past menopause. Women who are able to get pregnant but who cannot carry a pregnancy to term (birth) may also be considered infertile.
Infertility is a complex problem – it does not have a single cause because getting pregnant is a multi-step chain of events. The cause of infertility can rest in the women or the man, or can be from unknown factors or a combination of factors.
- Barrier methods, such as condoms, the
the cervical cap, are designed to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg for
- Intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device that is inserted into the
uterus by a health care provider. The IUD prevents a fertilized egg from
implanting in the uterus. An IUD can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years until
it is removed by a health care provider.
- Hormonal birth control, such as
birth control pills, injections, skin
patches, and vaginal rings, release hormones into a woman's body that interfere
with fertility by preventing
ovulation, fertilization, or
- Sterilization is a method that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant. Sterilization involves surgical procedures that must be done by a health care provider and usually cannot be reversed.
The choice of birth control depends on factors such as a person's overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases. A woman should talk to her health care provider about her choice of birth control method.