Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
is used to treat couples who cannot become pregnant on their own and who have not had success with conventional medical infertility therapies or surgery.
is a condition that impairs a couple’s ability to become pregnant. The condition affects about 6.7 million couples in the US, which is about 11% of the reproductive-age population. Infertility affects both men and women. Fortunately, 85% to 90% of cases of infertility can be treated with conventional medical therapies, such as fertility medicines or surgeries to repair reproductive organs.
Natural reproduction requires a complicated chain of events:
If 1 piece of that chain is not functioning properly, infertility can result. You should schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss your fertility if you:
A fertility consultation generally includes a physical examination of both partners. The exam will include questions about sexual habits to determine whether intercourse is taking place properly for conception. If no cause of infertility is determined, more specific tests are ordered, including:
A number of factors contribute to infertility, including
pelvic inflammatory disease,
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure (POF), luteal phase defect (LPD), smoking, alcohol use, extreme underweight or overweight, strenuous exercise,
eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),
prostate surgery, and testicle injuries or problems.
In addition, advancing age is associated with declining fertility, especially in women. Fertility especially declines in women after age 35. Men, on the other hand, often remain fertile into their 60s and 70s, although advancing age can be associated with problems with the shape and movement of sperm.
Assisted reproductive technology: home. The Centers for Disease Control website. Available at:
Updated November 6, 2014. Accessed September 8, 2015.
In vitro fertilization: IVF. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/ivf.html. Updated September 2014. Accessed September 8, 2015.
Infertility in men. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated May 11, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2015.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated August 10, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2015.
IVF/ART. National Infertility Association website. Available at:
http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/ivf-art.html. Accessed September 8, 2015.
Quick facts about infertility. American Society for Reproductive Medicine website. Available at: https://www.asrm.org/detail.aspx?id=2322. Accessed September 8, 2015.
What is infertility. Resolve—The National Infertility Association website. Available at: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility. Accessed September 8, 2015.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
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