woman holding negative pregnancy testFor years you have dreamed of having a home where the laughter of children echoed through the halls. When your doctor tells you that your chances of ever having a live birth are minimal, it blows against your heart like a hurricane. Dreams shatter when faced with the emotionally devastating disease of infertility. Depression can set in for both partners after months of disappointment, and can have a strong impact on self-esteem.

Infertility feels like a failure to those who have been diagnosed, and is not a topic of conversation in public settings.  Infertility is a very private issue for individuals and couples.  This privacy has created a failure of the public, healthcare professionals, politicians and even media to recognize infertility as a disease. There is a lack of available resources and knowledge about infertility in general.  However, infertility is a common problem. About 11% of women 15–44 years of age in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.

The causes of infertility can be broken down by the following percentages:

  • 30% attributed to male factors
  • 30% attributed to female factors
  • 20% are unexplained
  • 10% a combination of problems in both partners.

Some health problems can increase the risk of infertility. If you have irregular periods or no menstrual periods, very painful periods, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or more than one miscarriage you may be at higher risk.

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year and you are younger than 35 years of age.  Women aged 35 years and older should see a health care provider after 6 months of trying unsuccessfully.  It is always a good idea for a women and her partner to talk to a health care provider before trying to get pregnant. Your doctor can help you get your body ready for a healthy baby, give tips on conceiving, and can also answer questions on fertility.

Resources and support for those who are experiencing infertility can be found at the National Infertility Association.

How long did you try to get pregnant before turning to a health care provider? How did they help you?