Infertility is a difficulty in conceiving despite having regular unprotected sex. There is no definitive cut off period after which a medical professional is able to say a couple is ‘infertile’, though statistics do suggest that the probability of a couple who have been trying to fall pregnant naturally for more than three years with no success is 25% or less.
According to NHS statistics, about one in six or seven couples may experience difficulties when trying to conceive, which means that around 3,500,000 are affected by the condition in UK.
There is no one definitive factor which causes infertility. According to the NHS, approximately one third of fertility problems are due to issues with the female, one third are down to problems with the male, and in up to 23% of circumstances doctors are unable to pinpoint a cause.
Fertility testing and investigation can be a long and drawn out process from start to finish, so if you have reason to be concerned about conception then it is advisable for you to book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP will be able to give you advice about the next steps and will also carry out an assessment to explore possible areas of concern.
This will usually include your full medical, sexual and social history to help to identify what may be causing fertility problems. Your age, weight, length of time trying to conceive, and your sex life will usually be the starting points.
Research has shown that infertility often has a stressful impact on relationships and can affect a couple’s sex life. The condition is isolating and can impact on how a couple communicate with each other and with the people around them. There can be a profound sense of loss and grief which can impact on closeness.
Infertility can also carry with it a sense of denial with sadness and shock borne individually when pregnancy does not materialise. There can also be feelings of fear, guilt and abandonment from the partner who feels the problem lies with them. Women can feel less feminine and men can feel less masculine in the face of infertility.
Infertility can also put stress on your relationship, with studies showing that couples dealing with infertility are more likely to feel unhappy with themselves and their marriages. It is important to express the feelings of sadness, loss and anger and to have good support from people around you who understand your position.