Montgomery Women’s Fertility Center
3202 Tower Oaks Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20852
Why You Are Unable To Conceive
Many couples who want to have a child are not able to do so. About 15% of couples in the United States are infertile. Couples may be infertile if they have not been able to conceive after 12 months of having sex without the use of birth control.
If you and your partner are trying to have a child and can’t, you may want to have an infertility evaluation. Tests can be done to find the cause of the problem. Based on the results of these tests, treatment may be needed.
For healthy, young couples, the odds are about 20% that a woman will conceive (become pregnant) during any one menstrual cycle. This figure starts to decline in a woman’s late 20’s and early 30’s and decreases even more after age 35. A man’s fertility also declines with age, but not as early.
Ovulation is the release of an egg from one of the ovaries. In an average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs about 14 days after the first day of your last period. Once an egg is released, it can be fertilized for approximately 12-24 hours. Conception can occur if you have sex during or near the time of ovulation.
When the man ejaculates during sex, his semen is released into the vagina. Semen is the fluid that carries the sperm. Sperm travel up through the cervix and out into the tubes. Sperm can live in the woman’s fallopian tubes for three days or more. If the sperm and egg join, fertilization occurs.
The fertilized egg then moves through the tube into the uterus. It becomes attached there and begins to grow. All of these events must take place for pregnancy to occur. If there is a problem in this chain of events, infertility may result. Infertility may be caused by more than one factor. Some causes are easily found and treated, while others are not. In some cases, no cause can be found in either partner. You and your partner will receive care as a couple. The decision to begin testing depends on a number of factors. These include the age of the couple and how long the couple has been trying to get pregnant.
Next month’s article will discuss the basic workup of an infertilty evaluation for both men and women.