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Common Causes of Infertility


By Michelle Lee

When you and your spouse are trying to conceive, months of fruitless attempts can feel like an eternity. But a fertility expert may be able to help.

More than six million couples in the U.S. struggle with infertility, which affects about 10 percent of all people of reproductive age. If you're under 35, see a fertility specialist if you've been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for a year; however, if you're over 35, wait only six months, since your chances of conceiving after that age diminish greatly. Your ob-gyn may be able to field some general questions, but it's a good idea to go to a reproductive endocrinologist, who has more expertise with infertility.

There are many possible causes of infertility. About a third of cases can be attributed to male factors, another third to female factors, and a final third to a combination of both partners, or are simply inexplicable. Here, some of the most common conditions that cause infertility:

1. Ovulatory disorders: A condition in which the egg isn't properly released, or isn't released at all, from the ovaries.

Prevalence: Occurs in about 40 percent of all infertility cases.

Diagnosis: Your doctor may be able to tell if you have an ovulatory disorder by analyzing your menstrual history. Irregular periods or a complete lack of menstruation may be the clue, although some women with normal periods can also suffer from ovulatory disorders. Your doctor may also perform a blood test at certain times during your menstrual cycle or an ultrasound to clarify whether ovulation is occurring.

Treatment: Usually consists of fertility drugs that stimulate ovulation, like Clomid and Follistim.
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