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 7.5 million couples in the US, which is a little over 12% 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 one 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 testicular 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 (ART). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Updated November 9, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.
In vitro fertilization: IVF. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/in-vitro-fertilization. Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Infertility. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infertility.htm. Updated July 15, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Infertility in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902812/Infertility-in-men. Updated February 26, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116334/Infertility-in-women. Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.
IVF/ART. National Infertility Association website. Available at:
http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/ivf-art. Accessed January 30, 2017.
What is infertility. Resolve—The National Infertility Association website. Available at: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Last reviewed January 2017 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
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