Infertility Vs. Subfertility: Understanding Fertility Issues

You’re ready to have children. You want to start a family more than anything. But even after months of trying, it’s just not happening for you. Maybe this is your current situation, or maybe it’s something you’re worried may happen to you down the line. Either way, we get it. Many women - and men, too - worry that they’re infertile if they aren’t able to immediately conceive. The good news is that if you are experiencing trouble getting pregnant, there are multiple things that could be to blame - and complete infertility is not the most likely cause of your fertility issues.

How common is infertility?

Infertility and difficulty conceiving is more common than many people realize. According to the C.D.C., infertility is defined as not being able to successfully conceive, or get pregnant, after one year of unprotected sex. Currently, data from the C.D.C. shows 10% of women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. That’s 6.1 million women who are infertile to some extent.

Then there’s the data on male infertility. Unfortunately, current numbers aren’t easy to find on this subject, since many men dealing with infertility don’t identify themselves as infertile. The most recent survey on file with the C.D.C dates back to the early 2000s. It showed that 7.5% of men who are younger than 45 years of age, and who engage in sexual intercourse, reported seeing a fertility doctor during their lifetime. That equals about 3.3 – 4.7 million men that we know of. And of the men who sought help, 18% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem. The chances are that this number is a bit higher, as medical experts agree that the number of men who deal with infertility is about the same as the number of women who deal with it.

As a result of both men and women dealing with fertility issues, about 1 in 6 couples in the United States will experience difficulty getting pregnant. Many of them will then begin to seek out help in getting pregnant.

It’s been a year - does this mean I’m infertile?

Not necessarily! Although infertility is a surprisingly common issue, very few people are completely infertile. If you’ve been trying for a year with no results, it might be that you or your partner are subfertile. This term is used to describe a condition or state where, despite you or your partner being less fertile than the normal or ideal couple, you’re most likely still capable of eventually getting pregnant. It may just take a little more work than it might for another couple.

When do I need to consider working with a doctor to help get pregnant?

While you might not visit a fertility doctor when you are just starting to try and get pregnant, there are certain points at which an expert opinion can help you improve your conception efforts. We recommend meeting with a reproductive endocrinologist if you:

  • Have been trying to get pregnant for over a year
  • Are older than 35 years and have not conceived during a 6-month period of trying
  • Are dealing with health problems or a history of certain issues that increase the risk of infertility, such as:
    • irregular periods
    • no menstrual periods
    • very painful periods; endometriosis
    • pelvic inflammatory disease
    • more than one previous miscarriage

A doctor can help you determine exactly what may be keeping you from conceiving by looking for common conditions and even daily habits that can affect men and women’s reproductive health and fertility. Additionally, they can provide fertility assistance and help determine whether or not you can use tools such as home insemination s to help you continue to try and get pregnant right in your own home, without serious medical intervention.

Not knowing if you’re able to conceive can admittedly be a huge source of anxiety, especially since infertility, in general, is often a major source of stress. The good news is that your chances of being completely infertile are very low. Rather than fret about whether or not you can get pregnant, we’d advise that you relax, continue to try, and wait a reasonable amount of time before looking for medical help getting pregnant. If you do find that it’s time to meet with a doctor, you’ll likely obtain the information you need to address any fertility issues you have. And best of all, thanks to the invention of modern aids, you now have the opportunity to use an affordable aid, at home to optimize your chances of conceiving.


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