The inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse (6 months if the woman is over 35) is defined as infertility.
Infertility also includes cases where a woman has had 3 or more miscarriages (this can indicate implantation issues).
If you are unable to conceive without medical assistance, you are not alone. It is estimated that about 15% of couples experience difficulty conceiving. About 40% of infertility cases can be attributed to the male, about 40% to the female, and 20% are a either a combination of both, or described as "unexplained" infertility.
Most people that are diagnosed with infertility do go on and become parents over time. In fact, nearly 90% of infertility cases can be treated with simple therapies such as drug treatment, endoscopic surgery and assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization.
Here are some indications that you may be at risk for being infertile:
1. Your age is over 35: Biological clock is an important risk factor. As women age, fewer eggs become available for ovulation and egg quality deteriorates. As a result, after age 35, fertility potential starts to decline and eggs become more susceptible to chromosomal abnormalities. Women over 35 also have a higher chance of miscarriage.
2. You have irregular periods and/or experience bleeding or spotting between periods: This might be an indication of ovulation problems which is a cause of infertility.
3. You have a history of recurrent miscarriages: These may be caused by abnormalities of the uterus. An infection of the uterus or low hormone levels can also trigger recurrent miscarriages.
4. You are extremely underweight or overweight: Being overweight can result in overproduction of estrogen and this may prevent pregnancy. Being underweight can result in a lack of estrogen, which might disrupt the menstrual cycle.
5. You and/or your partner have chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypothyroidism: These diseases can hinder embryo implantation.
6. You have history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonnorhea: These can result in pelvic inflammatory disease and blocked fallopian tubes.
7. You have abnormal pelvic pain during your periods or sexual intercourse: These symptoms may indicate endometriosis, tubal disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, or fibroids, all of which can negatively affect fertility.
8. You smoke or consume excessive amounts of alcohol: Both are detrimental on reproductive health of males and females.