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they may experience problems conceiving. But regardless of your age or particular situation, current diagnosis and treatments offer great expectations for you to successfully become a parent.

The Definition of Infertility

The medical world defines infertility as not being able to conceive after 12 months of having regular heterosexual intercourse without the use of birth control. If you are unable to become pregnant after one year of unprotected sex, talk with your doctor about an infertility evaluation for you and your partner. If you are older than 35 or have certain medical conditions, the evaluation should be done sooner than one year. In many cases, tests can be performed to determine the cause of the infertility. Based upon those test results, treatment can be tailored to your specific needs and your infertility can be treated. Lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, or assisted reproductive technologies may be recommended.

The Roller Coaster of Emotions

Finding out that you or your partner may be facing fertility problems is often difficult to handle from an emotional standpoint. It's normal to feel depressed and discouraged at times. Many couples describe their emotions as ranging from fear and stress to hope and joy. Only couples who have experienced the problem of infertility can truly understand its devastating emotional and physical impacts. Infertility evaluation and treatment can be stressful and will require a big commitment from both you and your partner. That's why the two of you should work together with a knowledgeable, compassionate doctor and medical team who are considerate and sensitive to your emotional needs.

Potential Causes of Infertility

Many factors can cause or contribute to reduced fertility. Fertility concerns may be attributed to an issue with the woman, the man, the couple, or their lifestyle. That's why you and your partner should be evaluated and treated as a couple. Some causes may be easily found and treated, while others are more complex. In rare instances, no cause can be found at all.

Roughly speaking, about one-third of infertility cases may be attributable to the woman and another third to the man, while the last third either has to do with problems involving both partners or remains unexplained.

For women, infertility may be caused by a combination of many issues, including the following possibilities:

• Health and lifestyle choices

• Ovulation problems

• Hormonal imbalances

• Anatomical problems

• Genetic abnormalities

• Serious infections

Infertility issues for men include:

• Health and lifestyle habits

• Anatomical abnormalities and blockages

• Genetic and hormonal factors

The type of treatment you receive depends on what may be causing the infertility.

This chapter will take a closer look at the various causes of infertility and will help you determine where to focus your concerns.

Causes of Infertility: Health and Lifestyle Concerns for Women

Infertility may be caused by a variety of physical conditions and lifestyle choices. Sometimes, you can change your lifestyle habits and improve your own fertility.

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