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What is infertility and how common it is?

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6 fertility expert(s) answered this question

Answer from: Guillermo Quea Campos

Gynaecologist, Specialist in Reproductive Medicine Pronatal Fertility Clinics
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Infertility is a inability for a couple to achieve pregnancy when after one year of half of active sexual life without any contraceptive methods they don’t succeed. The definition is supported by demographic studies that show how 80% of couples get pregnant within a year after trying and this percentage reaches 90% after two years. More couples than ever have trouble having a child today. It’s estimated that between 10 to 50 % of couples of child-bearing ages will have some difficulty getting pregnant worldwide; this translates to some 60 or 80 million couples. 1 million in England or France, 6 million in the United States and 700 to 800 thousand in Spain more or less.

Answer from: Wael Saab, MRCOG, Bsc

Gynaecologist, Deputy Clinical Director at CRGH, Associate Professor at UCL
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Unfortunately fertility or infertility is not an uncommon problem. Actually it’s quite common. Approximately 1 in 10 or 2 in 10 couples will require some fertility assistance at some point in time in their life which is not a low figure. It’s somewhere between 10 to 20% most of the study is quoting 15%to be the figure. Actually we have some estimated figures from the WHO where they reported approximately 48 million couples worldwide are suffering from some form of infertility or might require fertility assistance. We are unfortunately seeing this number is increasing with time. Some possibly we might attribute that for couples starting to think of starting a family a little bit later in life because obviously people would like to finish their education, to reach a specific level in their career before starting to think about starting a family. Unfortunately time is not very forgiving when it comes to fertility for both men and women but unfortunately more for women. The main reason behind that is that every lady is born with a specific number of eggs, so every baby girl is born with a specific number of eggs that is not going to increase, actually it’s going to start dropping with time and every time a lady ovulates, she’s ovulating an egg which is the same age as her age. I mean by that a lady who’s ovulating at the age of 40, she’s ovulating an egg which is 40 years of age and with time, those starts getting some chromosomal abnormalities which is considered one of the main reasons for eggs failing to fertilize or for pregnancies not to happen. So these are the main reasons for fertility and in general that’s why we advise couples to have fertility treatment, if they have been trying for a year or two which is the definition of infertility, to start seeking medical help at that point in time.

Answer from: Wael Saab, MRCOG, Bsc

Gynaecologist, Deputy Clinical Director at CRGH, Associate Professor at UCL
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Unfortunately fertility or infertility of fertility is not an uncommon problem, actually it is quite common. Approximately one in ten couples will require some fertility assistance at some point in time in their life which is not a low figure – it is somewhere to range between 10 to 20% – most of the studies quote 15% to be the figure. Actually we have some estimated figures from the WHO where they reported up to 48 million people worldwide are suffering some form of infertility or might require fertility assistance. We are unfortunately seeing this number increasing with time. Some possibly we might attribute that to couples starting to think about family a little bit later in life because obviously people would like to reach a specific level in their career to think about starting a family. Unfortunately time is not very forgiving when it comes to fertility for both men and women but unfortunately more for women. The main reason behind that is that every lady is born with a specific number of eggs. So, every baby girl is born with a specific number of eggs that is not going to increase. Actually it is going to start dropping with time and every time a lady ovulates, she ovulates an egg which is the same age as her age. I meant that if a lady ovulates at age of 40, she is ovulating at 40 years of age. With time, those eggs will start to get some chromosomal abnormalities which is considered one of the main reasons for eggs failing to fertilise or for pregnancies not to happen. So, these are the main reasons for fertility and in general that’s why we advise the couple to have the fertility treatment if they have tried for a year or two which is a definition of infertility to start seeking medical help at that point in time.

Answer from: Alessandra Parrella

Embryologist, Andrologist, Embriologist IVF-Spain
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To begin, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected and regular intercourse. Infertility affects about 15-20% of couples worldwide. Male factor is responsible for 30% of all causes but it can reach 50% if we add to this the causes which are also “female causes”.

Answer from: James Nicopoullos, MD

Gynaecologist, Consultant Gynaecologist and Clinical Director of Lister Fertility
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About one in seven couples struggle with infertility and unfortunately that is becoming more and more common. In terms of definition, I’m gonna cheat and remind myself but it is in essence, the way I would explain it is a difficulty in conceiving naturally over a period of time and that period of time will really depend on how old you are. I think that not getting pregnant naturally over a year is not going to be unusual if you’re 43 but about 80 to 90% of women who are 30 will get pregnant naturally within a year so, the duration at which you should worry really depends on how old you are when you’re trying.

Answer from: Radwan Faraj, MD

Gynaecologist, Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine
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we human beings are a really fertile species. If you take a percentage of around 85% of couples trying to conceive in the first year, they will be successful doing that within 12 months. However, only 15% of these couples will have difficulty conceiving.

About this question:

What is a medical definition of infertility?

The infertility is described as not being able to get pregnant after minimum of  one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. The numbers seem to increase every year and to make things worse up to 30% of infertile couples are diagnosed with unexplained or idiopathic infertility.
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