Infertility is a unique medical condition because it involves a couple instead of just one individual. It is defined as the inability to conceive 12 months after having regular intercourse without the using any contraceptive method.
Juliana Tamayo Muñoz, gynecologist and obstetrician, provides some clarifications about this condition.
What are the most frequent causes of infertility?
- Ovulatory dysfunction: 21%
- Blocked fallopian tubes: 14%
- Endometriosis: 6%
- Coital failure: 6%
- Factor cervical: 3%
- Unexplained: 28%
Are there risk factors?
Two factors that are important in predicting a pregnancy are the age of the woman and the time that has passed prior to conception. Other risk factors among women include ovulation problems, pelvic surgeries, gynecological diseases, uterine problems, ovarian surgeries or having a history of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Among men, risk factors include having a history of inguinal surgery, testicular surgery (varicocele surgery), epidemic parotitis (mumps) as an adult, impotence or sexual dysfunction.
When should a doctor be seen after not being able to become pregnant?
The general consensus is that a fertility test should be taken with couples that have not been able to conceive after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. Testing should be performed earlier however depending on the individual’s medical history, physical findings and with women that are older than 35.
What steps can be taken after infertility has been detected?
Once the cause of infertility is detected, treatment therapies target correcting causes that are reversible and target addressing irreversible factors through different techniques. Some of the simplest recommendations for improving the chances of conception include not smoking, reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption and increasing coital frequency by one or two days, especially during the woman’s ovulation period. Male and female infertility therapy treatments can include medication, surgery or procedures such as intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.
Health insurance programs generally do not cover fertility treatments and costs can depend on the complexity of the technique required.
Are the treatments effective?
Success rates vary and depend on the cause of infertility. In general terms, assisted reproduction techniques have a 27% success rate (where childbirth is successfully achieved).