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Understanding Your Reproductive Health

Fertility

Your fertility refers to your ability or capacity to conceive a child. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to conceive easily. In fact, infertility—the inability to conceive naturally after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse—affects over 10% of couples.1

Ultimately, fertility is not just a women’s health challenge. Because anyone, regardless of gender, can experience infertility, everyone can take proactive measures to improve their fertility outcomes.

    So, how common is infertility in couples?1

    • In 33% of infertile couples, the challenge is unknown or is with both partners
       
    • In 33% of infertile couples, the challenge is with the male partner
       
    • In 33% of infertile couples, the challenge is with the female partner
       

    How does time factor into infertility?1

    • 12% to 15% of couples are unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sex.
    • Declining fertility occurs with aging, and women feel these effects more.
    • After 6 months of unsuccessful attempts at natural conception, women aged 35 years or older should contact their healthcare provider to discuss options.2

    What are signs or symptoms of infertility?2

    The main indicator is time: if a couple has unsuccessfully tried to get naturally pregnant for a year, the underlying challenge may be infertility. Other symptoms are more difficult to discern because they may not be obvious.

    However, couples experiencing these symptoms should consult their healthcare provider immediately:

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    For women:2


    • Irregular periods or no menstrual periods
    • Endometriosis
    • A history of pelvic inflammatory disease
    • Known or suspected uterine or tubal disease
    • A history of more than one miscarriage
    • Genetic or acquired conditions that predispose to diminished ovarian reserve, including chemotherapy or radiation5
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    For Men:2


    • A history of testicular trauma
    • Prior hernia surgery
    • Previous use of chemotherapy or exposure to radiation
    • A history of infertility with another partner
    • Sexual dysfunction5

    References

    1. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. How common is infertility? Accessed June 29, 2022. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/infertility/conditioninfo/common.
    2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infertility FAQs. Accessed June 17, 2022.   https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm.