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What is Infertility?

In layman terms, infertility refers to a condition where the man or woman is unable to produce a child. Resolve: The National Infertility Association of America defines it as “a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse or if the woman suffers from multiple miscarriages. Infertility can be male or female related.” According to statistics available, infertility affects about 10% of the US population. If the couple suspects infertility, it is imperative that they consult a gynecologist.

This problem can be broadly classified as:

(1) Primary infertility
Primary infertility refers to the inability of the couple to have a child after a year of unprotected intercourse.

(2) Secondary infertility

Secondary infertility refers to the condition of those couples who have a child, but are unable to conceive for the second time.

Causes of infertility

Infertility could be caused due to various physical as well as emotional reasons. In men, it could be caused due to retrograde ejaculation, impotence, low sperm count, or even hormone deficiency, among others. In women, factors such as an ovulation dysfunction, ovarian cysts, hormone imbalance, and poor nutrition could be responsible for infertility.

Myths and statistics about infertility

These however, are some of the various causes of infertility. It does not have any symptoms. Its successful treatment may also vary with the case. However, this problem is very often misunderstood by people, resulting in various myths regarding the issue. One of the most common myths is that infertility is a woman’s problem. In several countries, a woman unable to conceive a child is termed as ‘barren’. Studies conducted by Resolve however show, that there are about 35% women-related infertility issues. An equal number of cases are due to men-related problems. 20% of cases occur where both the partners may have problems, while the remaining 10% are unexplained infertility cases.

Another common myth is that couples need to avoid stress in order to have a child. Experts say that often a problem in the reproductive system causes infertility, not stress. In fact, stress may be a by-product of infertility. It is also commonly believed that women can get pregnant at any age. This is not true. A woman’s child-bearing ability peaks when she about 20 years of age, and then starts to decline. In most cases therefore, it becomes difficult for a 40-year-old woman to conceive.

Couples who want to have a baby are often advised to ‘try harder’. On the contrary, a couple facing difficulties in conceiving should consult a doctor, to check if infertility could be a cause.

Psychology of fertility

However, the physical aspect of infertility is more greatly emphasized upon that its psychological side. The couple may feel angry, depressed, and frustrated. One or both the partners may also experience guilt, and low self-esteem. In such cases, it is extremely important that the partners facing this crisis continue to communicate and draw support from one another. Talking to other couples facing similar situation may also help the couple realize that they are not alone. Learning as much as possible about the problem may also help the couple understand their situation better.

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