Infertility is the condition of being unable to conceive a child or bring a pregnancy to full term. Though it is one term, infertility can cover a wide range of causes and conditions, in both the male and female partner. Primary infertility, for example, refers to a couple’s inability to conceive their first child, while secondary infertility refers to an inability to conceive after a pregnancy has already been brought to term. Subfertility is a couple who is having trouble conceiving a child (usually trying unsuccessfully for more than 12 months) but is not biologically incapable of doing so.
Infertility can be caused by conditions in a woman such as endometriosis, fallopian tube damage, uterine fibroids or imbalance of hormones. Infertility in men can be due to a vasectomy, low sperm count and varicocole, a condition in which blood veins near the testicles become swollen and/or twisted. And infertility in either sex can occur due to age, genetic factors or diseases. Still, in roughly 15% of cases of infertility, there is no as-yet-identifiable cause of infertility.
While infertility can be emotionally stressful and damaging, there are medical treatments that can give many couples hope of conception. Infertility treatments usually begin with medication, designed to increase the fertility of either the woman, man or both. Failing that, there are also other procedures, such as in-vitro fertilization, which can attempt to complete the fertilization outside the human body, and artificial insemination, which attempts to complete fertilization inside the body. While the field of infertility treatment grows every day, medical treatments are still an invaluable resource: a little more than half of the couples that seek medical intervention for infertility can expect a successful pregnancy.