What is infertility?

Infertility (often called subfertility) is a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex (without contraception) between a man and a woman. Around 9 to 15% of couples will have fertility problems. Infertility can affect men and women.

Infertility in women can be due to diverse problems. It could be a problem within the ovaries. For example eggs may be of low fertility, or ovulation may not occur, or it may occur but irregularly which would a ect how often she has her period. Infertility could also be due
to problems with the fallopian tubes caused by a blockage (often after infection) or with the uterus (or womb). Women can have fertility problems even if they still have regular periods.

Infertility in men is most often due to too few sperm, poor sperm quality or sperm that do
not move properly. Men’s infertility could also be due to mumps when it occurs during puberty. Mumps is a viral infection that causes a swelling of glands below the ears. Finally, men can have problems ejaculating, which makes it difficult to have sex and to father a child through sexual intercourse.

Sometimes both partners can have fertility problems or sometimes the cause may be unknown. In general approximately 30% of fertility problems are due to the woman, 30% due to the man, and 30 to 40% to both or to unknown causes.

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