Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (six months for women age 35 or older). According to the Center for Disease Control about 6.1 million women in the U.S. ages 15-44 have difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

Factors that contribute to infertility

Women

  • Problems with ovulation: Ovulation irregularities are usually caused by a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In women who have PCOS, a hormonal imbalance interferes with normal ovulation. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) can also cause ovulation problems. POI, which is different than menopause, occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning normal before age 40.
  • Blocked fallopian tubes: Causes include pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and surgery for an ectopic pregnancy
  • Uterus problems
  • Uterine fibroids

Other things that can alter a woman’s ability to have a baby include use of tobacco, excessive alcohol or drugs, poor diet and stress, athletic training, sexually transmitted infections and drastic weight gain or loss. 

Men

Health and lifestyle habits can reduce the amount and viability of a man’s sperm. Examples include:

  • Drug, alcohol or tobacco use
  • Age
  • Environmental toxins (pesticides, lead)
  • Medicines
  • Cancer treatments (radiation and chemotherapy)

Not being able to become pregnant within a year of trying does not mean you will never get pregnant. Many couples experience success in their second year of trying without any help. If you have concerns about you or your partner possibly being infertile, speak to your doctor about testing and treatment options.