Egg and Sperm
Bay IVF - Advanced Reproductive Care                                Palo Alto  650-322-0500

 

What is Infertility?

By Francis Polansky, M.D.

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs one of the body's most basic functions: the conception of children.

Conception is a complicated process that depends upon many factors:

  • Production of healthy sperm by the man and healthy eggs by the woman
  • Unblocked fallopian tubes that allow the sperm to reach the egg
  • Sperm's ability to fertilize the egg when they meet
  • Ability of the fertilized egg (embryo) to become implanted in the woman's uterus
  • Sufficient embryo quality

 

The majority of infertility causes will fall into one or more of the following three categories:

  • Male Factor Infertility: Sperm production and sperm quality
  • Ovulation and Hormonal Production: Egg production, egg quality, and preparation of the uterine lining for implantation
  • Passage: The joining of sperm and egg in the Fallopian tubes and transport of the fertilized egg to the uterus

 

Infertility is most often defined as 12 months of unprotected intercourse without achieving a pregnancy. There is no distinction between having unprotected intercourse and "trying" to conceive. They both represent "exposure" to conception.

The following table illustrates the recommended length of "exposure," as it relates to the female partner’s age, before consulting an infertility specialist.

Length of "Exposure" before Consulting an Infertility Specialist
Age No
Exposure
1 to 3 months 4 to 6 months 7 to 9 months 10 to 12 months 13 or more months
35
or
Less
Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
Specialist
36-37 Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
Specialist
 
38-39 Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
Specialist
   
40-41 Begin sexual activity Continue sexual activity Consult
Specialist
     

42-44
 
Consult
Specialist
         

 

Lifestyle and Reproductive Health:

Your physical condition can play an enormous role in achieving a birth. Optimizing your fertility potential could have a considerable impact on the probability of a successful outcome.

 

June 2018

 

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