Infertility is typically diagnosed when a woman has been trying to get pregnant for years, with no success. A woman who suffers multiple miscarriages may also be labeled as infertile, depending on the reason for pregnancy loss.
For conception to occur, a complex chain of events must happen at a specific time, in a specific order.
- A woman must release at least 1 egg from her ovaries; this is called ovulation.
- The egg must travel through the fallopian tube, towards the uterus.
- A male’s sperm must find and fuse with the egg, along the journey through the fallopian tube; this is called fertilization.
The fertilized egg must then complete the journey through the fallopian tube to the uterus, and implant in the endometrial tissue along the uterine wall, the womb.
Infertility is a result of complications at any step in this process. Although women have been blamed for infertility issues for thousands of years, female factors only contribute to about 1/3 of all infertility cases. Male factors make up for another 1/3 of infertility cases, with the final 1/3 being unknown, or a combination of both factors mixing together.
Couples that suffer from infertility today have a lot more options than they once did, and should seek out a reproductive specialist if they believe they are having issues conceiving naturally.