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Have you been trying to conceive without success for a while now? Read about the most common causes of infertility, what you can do to improve your chances of conceiving if you are not medically infertile, and find out when to see a doctor.

Which partner is infertile?

Infertility is still largely seen as a female problem, unfortunately, but statistics don't support the view of people who think that women are always "to blame" for a lack of pregnancy. Male infertility is responsible for a couple's infertility in around 30 percent of cases, while the female partner has an infertility problem in another 30 percent of cases. In the remaining instances of infertility, the cause is unknown or both partners have problems with infertility. The only way to determine the cause of a couple's failure to get pregnant is to see a doctor.

When should you start worrying about infertility?

Seemingly healthy young couples, with both partners under 35, should see a doctor if they have not conceived within two years of trying according to some sources, and one year according to some newer definitions. It is wise to take steps to increase your chances of getting pregnant during this time period an unhealthy weight and diet, alcohol, drugs and nicotine, or having sex at the wrong time of the month should all be eliminated as possible causes of "infertility" before making an appointment. Couples in which the women is over 35 should see a doctor after one year or six months of trying to conceive, depending on whom you ask. Your OBGYN is a good place to start asking questions, and they can refer you to a specialist.

"Just relax and it will happen..."

...is that a myth, or is there some truth to this common but offensive statement? There is some evidence (note the word "some") that extreme stress can indeed have a negative impact on people's fertility in women, ovulation may temporarily come to a halt under extreme stress. Infertility may be due to lifestyle or environmental factors. In many cases, infertility is a medical problem that has nothing to do with the behavior or stress levels of the person or people in question, and "just relax" is really nothing beyond a stupid comment nobody wants to hear.

How do you know when you ovulate?

Having sex at the right time of the month is essential for pregnancy to occur. You have a relatively large window of opportunity; women are fertile from around five days before ovulation, to the time of ovulation itself. An egg remains viable for around 24 hours once it is released, but sperm can survive inside the body for quite a while. To find out when you ovulate, you can use ovulation tests that work by detecting hormones, an ovulation calendar, or chart your basal body temperature. Many women also have natural ovulation symptoms like pain, tender breasts, or an ovulation bleeding. Research shows that sexual intercourse every other day throughout the cycle offers the best chance of pregnancy presumably especially for couples who have decided not to use methods that reliably track the date of the female partner's ovulation.

What are the most common causes of infertility?

The most common fertility problems in women are blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and poor quality eggs usually in a woman's late thirties and in her forties. Men most commonly have a low sperm count, which can be due to a huge variety of factors. Idiopathic or unexplained infertility is diagnosed when fertility tests do not show any clear cause for a couple's infertility. This is quite common.

What next if you are infertile?

Modern technology is enabling a large amount of couples who would not otherwise have been able to have biological children to get pregnant these days. Depending on the cause of your infertility, intrauterine insemination, IVF, or surrogacy may help you become parents. Many causes of infertility (blocked tubes, ovulation disorders and sperm delivery problems for instance) can also be solved surgically or with medication in many cases. Before you can get the right treatment, it is important to walk through the proper diagnostic process. This is a huge step to take for many people, because the medical world can be a scary place, and lots of time and money are also involved here. The sooner you take the step, the more likely that you will be able to determine the reason you are not getting pregnant with certainty. Who knows it may be something that is easily treatable!

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