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Infertility is a word used to describe the inability for a woman to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a period of a year or more. It is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of all couples in the United States are infertile. There are two ways to look at the causes for infertility. The first is that a single cause in the woman or the man may be leading to the infertility. The second is that a combination of different factors may be producing the obstacle preventing the couple from becoming pregnant. Luckily, there are many different therapies available for treating and responding to infertility in couples.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Infertility

Infertility can exist due to a problem with the woman, the man or both individuals. Some of the causes associated with infertility in men include: abnormal function or production of sperm, sperm delivery problems, general health issues, overexposure to environmental factors like chemicals or heat, damage from cancer or cancer treatments and age. Some of the causes associated with female infertility include: blockage or damage to the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, an ovulation disorder, elevated prolactin levels or hyperprolactinemia, early menopause, pelvic adhesions, uterine fibroids or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

The complications associated with the infertility itself are emotional, psychological and relationship-based because being unable to start a family can be very hard to deal with. Because infertility can be treated with a variety of different treatment options, seeking medical assistance is important. It is also important to consider the underlying cause behind infertility, since many conditions require treatment and may be causing damage to the body if left unchecked.

Signs, Symptoms and Testsof Infertility

Most couples are able to achieve a pregnancy within a period of approximately six months after they begin trying. Within twelve months of unprotected sexual intercourse, it is believed that 90 percent of all couples will achieve pregnancy. The main symptom of infertility is that the couple cannot achieve pregnancy during this time period even when there are no other symptoms in full view. Infertile women may experience other symptoms such as abnormal menstruation, changes in sexual function or changes in hair growth.

There is typically a commitment required when undergoing testing for infertility because most couples who participate will need to change and monitor their sexual habits and how those habits change the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Evaluation can be expensive depending on what type of physician is seen for the problem and there is generally no guarantee that the testing and checking will lead to pregnancy. Tests may include: physical examinations, semen analysis for the male, hormone testing, ovulation testing, hysterosalpingography, Laparoscopy, ovarian reserve testing, genetic testing and ultrasound.

Treatment, Drugs and Preventionof Infertility

The treatment for infertility issues will vary between the man and the woman in the relationship. Some treatment options depend on the cause of the infertility, how long the infertility has lasted, the ages of the partners and a number of personal preferences too. For men, addressing premature ejaculation or impotence may help as well as surgery or hormones to treat a lack of sperm. For women, Clomiphene citrate, human menopausal gonadotropic, follicle-stimulating hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs, metformin, aromatase inhibitors or bromocriptine may be prescribed. Other treatment options include surgical solutions and assisted reproductive technology or ART such as in vitro fertilization or assisted hatching.