Trouble Conceiving? Some Possible Reasons Why

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woman looking at home pregnancy test with man next to her with head in hands

Infertility is a common problem and the incidence of infertility is increasing as couples choose to delay childbearing until their early 30s or mid to late 30s.

The condition can be as high as 30 percent in the “older” couples who are trying to conceive. A reduced ability to conceive is linked most closely to the age of the female partner.

But infertility is not just a woman’s problem. About 40 percent of the reasons for infertility can be linked to the male partner.

Factors of Male Infertility

Common problems in the male partner can be evaluated by a semen analysis. This test will not tell us the reason for the lower sperm count or lower sperm motility, which is the ability of sperm to move efficiently. But it does allow us to focus on specific factors in the male.

In a male partner who has a low sperm count or low sperm motility, there are several factors we commonly evaluate.

The first is lifestyle factors. This may include assessment of how much alcohol he consumes, whether he uses recreational drugs, the use of or history of taking anabolic steroids for weightlifting or muscle enhancement.

We also would advise the male partner be examined by a urologist who specializes in male infertility.

Issues for Women

About half of the identifiable causes in a couple having trouble conceiving is because of female factors. They include not being able to ovulate or a problem with the fallopian tubes, which are the tubes that eggs travel from the ovaries, where eggs form, to the womb, which is also called the uterus.

In general, the fertility rate for a woman begins to decline at approximately age 33 to 35 and progressively decreases until she reaches the early 40s.

In addition to the problems with conceiving, should a woman become pregnant, the risk of miscarriage increases starting in her mid 30s, and then increases fairly dramatically to more than 50 percent at about age 42.

James Liu, MD, is Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University Hospitals.

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Fertility problems are as unique as the individuals who experience them. With our team of experienced fertility doctors and specialists, University Hospitals Fertility Center provides advanced treatments for even the most complex cases, and individualized, compassionate care to make the process as comfortable as possible. Learn more about fertility and reproductive health services at University Hospitals.

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