You may be infertile if you have not been able to get pregnant after trying for at least 1 year.
A woman's fertility slowly drops from her mid-30s into her 40s because of the natural aging of the egg supply. A man's fertility is not affected as much by age.
Defining infertility is a personal issue. It can depend on your age and how much time you choose to spend trying to get pregnant without medical help.
In about 35 out of 100 couples, testing finds a male fertility problem, such as with sperm production or ejaculation.1
In about 50 out of 100 couples, testing finds a female fertility problem with ovulation, fallopian tube function, or other pelvic problems.1
Some couples find that both partners have a fertility problem.
In 10 out of 100 couples, no cause is found.1
It can be stressful for you and your partner to find out the reason for infertility. Knowing where the problem is may create feelings of guilt and blame and may put strain on your relationship. Not being able to find any cause can also create stress. You may want to talk with a counselor or join an infertility support group before you make your decision. Talking with other people can help you feel less alone.
Tests for infertility can range from a simple blood test to surgery. If you decide to have testing, your doctor will want to check you and your partner at the same time.
Based on your test results, your doctor can help you decide about your next testing or treatment option. Take some time to think about what you have learned from each test and what you want to do next.
For example, if your first test results are normal and no clear reason is found for your fertility problem, you may:
Tests can't always find the cause of infertility. And not all infertility problems can be treated.
Depending on the results of these tests, your doctor may suggest treatment, such as:
Before you decide about testing, think about:
Testing and treatment can be costly, stressful, and sometimes painful. Before starting, talk about how much testing you are willing to do and for how long.
You may decide to have the basic tests only and to stop when you have enough information. Or instead of advanced testing and treatment, you may decide to keep trying to get pregnant on your own or to adopt a child. Your decision will be based on your health, age, goals, and values.
Your doctor might advise you to have infertility testing if:
|Have infertility testing||Don't have infertility testing|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"Most couples we know seemed to get pregnant after just a few months of trying. We've been trying now for about 5 or 6 months and still haven't gotten pregnant. But we aren't sure that we have been having sex at the right time of the month, so we got some information about how to calculate the fertile time. We are going to see if working on our timing for a few months helps us get pregnant. If it doesn't, we'll see our doctor to talk about the next step."
— Lynn, age 33, and James, age 40
"I didn't have any trouble getting pregnant with my first child. But my second husband and I have been trying to have a baby for about a year now, and I still haven't gotten pregnant. Since he doesn't have any children of his own, we can't be sure which one of us may have a problem. We have been having sex at the right times. We agree that it's time to find out whether there may be a problem. We don't want to wait too long, because we'd like the new baby to be able to grow up with his or her big sister."
— Rosa, age 32
"We are getting started on our baby-making a little bit later than a lot of couples: I'm 34 and my husband is 38. It's ironic that we have both been so successful in our careers and yet now seem to be having trouble having a baby! We have been trying for about 8 or 9 months, and it doesn't seem to be happening. My husband is a little on the macho side, so he's not too keen on having a semen analysis. But I'm sure that if I agree to have some tests, he will too."
— Carol, age 34, and Dave, age 38
"We've been trying to conceive for 10 months now. Soon we'll have to start counting in years, I'm afraid. It's been a rude awakening to discover that we can't control our ability to conceive. But since we are both still young, we aren't too worried yet. We are going to try tracking my wife's menstrual cycles and see if that helps before we take the next step. If that doesn't help, I'll consider having my sperm checked."
— James, age 27, and Sabra, age 26
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to have infertility testing
Reasons not to have infertility testing
Having a biological child is very important to me.
Having a biological child is not that important to me.
I'm not worried about the cost of infertility testing.
I'm worried about the cost of testing.
I think I can handle the stress of testing.
I'm not sure that I can handle the stress of testing.
I accept that testing may not be able to find a problem or treat it if one is found.
I don't want to have a lot of tests that may not find my problem or treat it.
I know that having these tests means talking with doctors about our sex life.
I'm not comfortable talking about our sex life.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
Having infertility testing
NOT having infertility testing
1. If you are younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for 4 months, is it time to think about an infertility test?
2. Can testing always help you find out the cause of any infertility problem?
3. Can some tests find and treat an infertility problem?
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology|