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Trying to Conceive?

If you've been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, you may have infertility.

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs one of the body's most basic functions: the conception of children.

View all our resources on Female Fertility

What is normal fertility and when does it become infertility?

Conception is a complicated process that depends upon many factors:

  • the production of healthy sperm by the man and healthy eggs by the woman;
  • unblocked fallopian tubes that allow the sperm to reach the egg;
  • the sperm's ability to fertilize the egg when they meet;
  • the ability of the fertilized egg (embryo) to become implanted in the woman's uterus;
  • sufficient embryo quality.

Finally, for the pregnancy to continue to full term, the embryo must be healthy and the woman's hormonal environment adequate for its development.

When just one of these factors is impaired, infertility can result.

View the Comprehensive Infertility Video (18 mins) More resources on infertility
The inability to have a child affects 1 out of 9 women in the United States

How common is infertility?

Infertility affects 10%-15% of couples. This makes it one of the most common diseases for people between the ages of 20 and 45. In addition, the longer a woman tries to get pregnant without conceiving, the lower are her chances are without medical treatment. Most (85%) couples with normal fertility will conceive within a year of trying. If a couple doesn’t conceive in the first year, their chance of conceiving gets lower each month. This happens more quickly as the woman gets older.

View statistical infographic on the Number of Individuals With Infertility

Read the Fact Sheet on Defining Infertility Read the Infertility: an overview booklet
Causes of infertility

What Causes Infertility?

A woman's age can have a big effect on her ability to have a baby, especially as she enters her 30s and 40s. For a healthy woman in her 20s or early 30s, the chances of conceiving each month is 25%-30%. But by the time a woman is 40 years old, the chances are 10% or less.

The most common female infertility factor is an ovulation disorder. Other causes of female infertility include blocked fallopian tubes, which can occur when a woman has had pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis (a sometimes painful condition causing adhesions and cysts). Congenital anomalies (birth defects) involving the structure of the uterus and uterine fibroids are associated with repeated miscarriages. Does My Age Affect My Fertility? View the full Causes of Infertility Infographic

How is Infertility Diagnosed?

Couples are generally advised to seek medical help if they are unable to achieve pregnancy after a year of unprotected intercourse. However, if you are over 35, it is recommended that you seek medical assistance after 6 months of trying. The doctor will conduct a physical examination of both partners to determine their general state of health and to evaluate physical disorders that may be causing infertility. Usually, both partners are interviewed about their sexual habits in order to determine whether intercourse is taking place properly for conception.

If no cause can be determined at this point, more specific tests may be recommended. For women, these include an analysis of body temperature and ovulation, x-ray of the fallopian tubes and uterus, and laparoscopy. For men, initial tests focus on semen analysis.

View the Basic Infertility Evaluation Video (3 mins) Read ASRM Fact Sheet on Diagnostic Testing for Female Infertility
Infertility is not an inconvenience

What can I do about my fertility?

Before attempting pregnancy, a woman should make sure she is healthy enough for pregnancy by adopting a healthier lifestyle and taking prenatal vitamins. 

If you have been trying to conceive for a year or more, you should consider an infertility evaluation. However, if you are 35 years or older, you should consider beginning the infertility evaluation after about six months of unprotected intercourse. If you have medical or genetic condition or risk of one, you should seek care earlier.

Going to see a fertility specialist may help a couple figure out why they're not conceiving. Women see a reproductive endocrinologist and men see a urologist who specializes in fertility. In some (10% or more) cases, though, there may not be an obvious reason why a couple can't conceive. This is known as unexplained infertility. Couples with unexplained infertility may have problems with egg quality, tubal function, or sperm function that are difficult to diagnose and/or treat. Fertility drugs and IUI have been used in couples with unexplained infertility with some success. If no pregnancy occurs within three to six treatment cycles, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) may be recommended.

Optimize Your Natural Fertility View the full Infertility is not an Inconvenience Infographic

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Fact Sheets and Booklets

ASRM has publications written with you in mind that go in-depth on what to expect as you explore your fertility options.
Patient

Infertility: an Overview (booklet)

Infertility is typically defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse.
Patient

Optimizing Natural Fertility

Before attempting pregnancy, a woman should make sure she is healthy enough for pregnancy by adopting a healthier lifestyle and taking prenatal vitamins. If she has a medical or genetic condition or risk of one, she should seek advice from a medical professional before conceiving (becoming pregnant)
What

What is Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL)?

This is a condition when a woman has 2 or more clinical pregnancy losses (miscarriages) before the pregnancies reach 20 weeks.
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Hypothyroidism and pregnancy: what should I know?

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is when the thyroid gland produces less  thyroid hormone than it should.

Resources For You

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is committed to providing patients with the highest quality information about reproductive care.