Most medical professionals define infertility as being unable to conceive a child after trying for a year through unprotected sex. If you are female and over 35, then you need to try for at least six months before you can be diagnosed as infertile. There are also two types of infertility: primary (when you and your partner have never had a child before) and secondary (when you and your partner have had a child before).
While many couples may feel alone in their fertility problems, they are not. Here are some facts on infertility.
- It is estimated that 1 in 10 couples is infertile (some put the figure as high as 1 in 6). In the United States, infertility affects between 5 and 6 million people.
- Roughly 1/3 of the time fertility problems lie with the man, 1/3 of the time with the woman and 1/3 of the time with both the woman and the man.
- The average age of people who seek a treatment for their infertility is 32 years old.
- Less than half of people who are infertile actually seek out a diagnosis or advice. Of those people who do, just over half go on to pursue treatment.
- Advances in infertility treatments mean that many people can be helped through inexpensive methods.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a well-known and very expensive infertility treatment. However, only about 2% of couples actually pursue this as a viable option. Of those couples who do, only about 65% of them are successful in conceiving.
- Being infertile is not the same as being sterile. Having fertility problems means that you need some help to conceive a child. Being sterile means that you cannot conceive at all.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD