For some people, they know early on that they may have fertility issues. The reasons for this may be if they have undergone cancer treatment, if they have irregular or no periods, if they have had surgery involving their reproductive organs, if they have a family history of early menopause, or if they have already been diagnosed with infertility. It may be that their sexual orientation means that they will need assisted conception techniques, to help them to become parents.Many of these people will start to consider their options for fertility treatment as soon as they are aware of their potential hurdles.

For people who have had no such diagnosis, it is a very common assumption that if they try to get pregnant in their 20s or early 30s, it will happen for them. So many people spend such a large part of their early adult life trying NOT to get pregnant, that it comes as a great shock to them when they want to get pregnant and can’t.


Is infertility mainly an issue for people over 35?

It’s true that age plays a massive factor in fertility and with women in particular, their chances of conceiving start to drop rapidly after the age of 35. There are, however, many couples who are much younger, who find that even with regular unprotected sex around the time of ovulation, they still fail to conceive. This could be due to a number of factors that, once diagnosed, can be treated, or sometimes the diagnosis is unexplained infertility. In many cases, assisted conception can enable these couples or individuals to become parents.


How long should people leave it before they have their fertility checked?

If regular, unprotected intercourse has not resulted in pregnancy within 6 months for women over 35, or within a year for women under 35, then it is advisable to consult aGP or fertility specialist, as there may be underlying medical reasons.


How can doctors assess fertility in women?

A GP will ask you questions about medical history, family medical history, current medication, working conditions, frequency and regularity of menstrual period sand general medical health. The next step is referral to a fertility specialist, they can do a blood test, an ultrasound to assess the ovaries and other investigations to look for things like blocked tubes, a low egg reserve, or other potential complications.


How can doctors assess fertility in men?

As with women, assessment starts with a conversation that will help to build up a picture about lifestyle, medical conditions, current medication, working conditions and more. They may also do a physical examination of the genital area and ask for a semen sample, to assess the quality, quantity and motility of the sperm.

The good news with male infertility, is that it can often be fixed with lifestyle changes (as new sperm are continually being produced) or in some cases, it can be addressed with drugs or surgery, so that conception through sexual intercourse can take place.  


Does a diagnosis of infertility mean it will be impossible to conceive a child?

This is a common misconception. If infertility is diagnosed, depending on the cause, there are many things that can be done to enable couples or individuals to conceive, whether naturally, or through assisted conception techniques.Depending on the cause of the infertility, lifestyle changes, drugs, surgery or treatments like IUI, ICSI and IVF can lead to pregnancy and birth.


What is undiagnosed infertility?

This means that there is no obvious cause for the inability to conceive through sexual intercourse. For some people, it means it may be taking longer, however, depending on the age of the couple, they may be advised to opt for IUI, IVF orICSI, to improve their chances of getting pregnant.

Here at theIVF Network, we understand how it feels for couples and individuals struggling to conceive. This is why, through our website, blog posts and dedicated channel of experts, we provide as much information as possible, to help people to make informed choices on their infertility journey.