What is Infertility?

Infertility is the result of a disease (an interruption, cessation, or disorder of body functions, systems, or organs) of the male or female reproductive tract which prevents the conception of a child or the ability to carry a pregnancy to delivery. The duration of unprotected intercourse with failure to conceive should be about 12 months before an infertility evaluation is undertaken, unless medical history, age, or physical findings dictate earlier evaluation and treatment.

What is normal fertility and when does it become infertility?

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. Conception is a complicated process that depends upon many factors. 

  • on 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;
  • and 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.

Infertility, infertility in male, infertility in female

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 to get pregnant 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.

Learn more about why infertility occurs and how to treat it. ASRM has several publications that can help.

Start with the ASRM Topic Index where you can find information on:

Check out ASRM's videos made with you in mind:
is a patient education website of ASRM.



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