The inability to have a baby after one year of trying, or six months if a woman is 35 or older, is the definition of infertility.
Women who can get pregnant but cannot stay pregnant also may be infertile.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, it's time for you and your partner to meet with an HonorHealth fertility specialist in the Phoenix area.
To help you reach your dream of starting or adding to your family, an HonorHealth reproductive specialist will evaluate you and your partner to determine if a physical or hormonal issue is causing the problem.
You'll receive a treatment plan tailored to your needs to help you achieve your dream.
According to the Office on Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Percent of women from the ages of 15-44 with impaired fecundity (ability to produce offspring): 12.1 percent
- Percent of married women from the ages of 15-44 that are infertile: 6.7 percent
- Number of women from the ages of 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.3 million
- Percent of women from the ages of 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 12 percent
- After the age of 30, a woman's chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every year
- Percent of infertility cases can be treated by conventional therapies such as surgery or medication: 85 to 90 percent
Aging decreases a woman's chances of having a baby because:
- Her ovaries become less able to release eggs
- She has fewer eggs
- Her eggs aren't as healthy
- She's more likely to have health conditions that can cause infertility
- She's more likely to have a miscarriage
Causes of infertility
About a third of causes for infertility can be attributed to females, about a third to males, and the final third to a combination of male and female factors. Sometimes, no cause can be found.
Conditions that can cause infertility in a woman include:
Infertility risk factors
You're at higher risk of infertility due to:
- Age: Approximately one-third of couples in which the woman is older than 35 has fertility problems. Aging decreases a woman's chances of having a baby because she:
- Has fewer eggs left
- Has eggs that aren't as healthy
- Is more likely to have health conditions that can cause fertility problems
- Is more likely to have a miscarriage
- Smoking: It boosts your risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and damages your cervix and fallopian tubes. Doctors believe it ages your ovaries and depletes your eggs prematurely.
- Excessive alcohol use: It's considered excessive if you have more than one alcoholic drink a day
- Weight: Being overweight or significantly underweight can affect ovulation
- Excessive physical or emotional stress: It can result in amenorrhea (absent periods)
Your fertility specialist — a reproductive endocrinologist — on the HonorHealth medical staff may prescribe one or more of the following tests for female infertility. Some tests can be done at the doctor's office while others may need to be performed at an HonorHealth medical center:
- Ovulation testing: An over-the-counter kit used at home detects the surge in luteinizing hormone that happens before ovulation. A progesterone blood test taken at your doctor's office also can determine that you're ovulating. Your specialist also may check:
- Other hormone levels and thyroid and pituitary hormones that control reproduction
- Cervical mucus and tissue to see if ovulation is happening
- Hysterosalpingography: After X-ray contrast is injected into your uterus, an X-ray determines if there are abnormalities in the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes
- Hysteroscopy: A tiny telescope with a fiber light is placed through the vagina and cervical opening to search for uterine abnormalities
- Sonohystogram: This test combines an ultrasound with saline injected into the uterus to search for abnormalities or problems
- Urine and blood tests: These check for infections or hormone issues, including how your thyroid is functioning
- Imaging tests: They can include a pelvic ultrasound to detect fallopian tube or uterine disease
- Laparoscopy: This minimally invasive surgery uses a small incision. A camera is inserted to examine your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes in search of endometriosis, scarring, blockages and irregularities
- Genetic testing: It can help determine if a genetic defect might be causing your infertility
Depending on what the tests show, your HonorHealth fertility specialist will develop a personalized care plan with the goal of conceiving and having a successful pregnancy.