The World Health Organisation defines infertility as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. Infertility can be primary (before the birth of a child) or secondary (after the birth of one or more children).
A fertile person in their mid-twenties having regular sexual intercourse has approximately a one-in-four chance of conceiving each month.
Symptoms of Infertility
Most people should consult a doctor after a year of trying to conceive unsuccessfully. This is the main sign of infertility. If the woman is over age 35 and hasn’t conceived after trying for six months or has an irregular menstrual cycle, it’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember that the man should be evaluated, too. Male infertility is just as common as female infertility.
In another 40% of cases, the woman is diagnosed with a problem, such as:
* Irregular ovulation (release of eggs)
* Blocked fallopian tubes
* Abnormalities in the cervix or uterus
In about 20% of infertile couples, no cause can be found.
In about 40% of infertile couples, the cause is traced to the man. Common problems include:
* Low sperm count
* Poor sperm motility
* Malformed sperm
* Blocked sperm ducts
In some cases, poor timing is the main obstacle. To find out when you’re ovulating (and determine the best time for sex), you can use over-the-counter ovulation tests. These detect a hormonal surge that occurs 12 to 36 hours before the ovary releases an egg. If the tests never yield a positive result, consult your doctor. Irregular ovulation accounts for about a third of all cases of infertility.
There are a number of other specialist fertility tests detailed on the HSE website.
The Miscarriage Association of Ireland www.miscarriage.ie
Féileacáin – The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland www.feileacain.ie
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death www.aimsireland.ie
Support Links – Pregnancy & Infant Loss Ireland www.pregnancyandinfantloss.ie
Donor Conception Newtwork: www.dcnetwork.org