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How Do We Know Who Has the Fertility Problem?

When there is an infertility issue it is important to determine who has the problem. If it is the woman, the man, or a combination of both that has the infertility problem. In the United States alone more than 6.1 million people are affected by infertility, which means there are many doctors who specialize in treating these couples.

In general, conception is complicated and there are many processes involved. First of all, the man must have healthy sperm and the woman must have healthy eggs in addition to fallopian tubes that are open so the sperm can reach the egg. Then, when the sperm meets the egg it must be able to fertilize it and the fertilized egg must implant in the uterus. Then, finally, the embryo must be of sufficient quality that it can grow into a healthy fetus. Also, the woman must have adequate hormone levels to support the development of the fetus. When there is a problem with even one of these factors then the result could be infertility.

Whose Fault Is It?
Many times when fertility problems arise the couple wants to know whose “fault” it is that they can’t conceive. There should not be finger pointing or anyone looking to lay blame. Instead, the couple should support one another and find a solution to infertility that works for them. When infertility is due to the woman it is only 1/3 of the time, the other 1/3 is due to men, and the other 1/3 is a combination of infertility issues with both individuals. There are also some unknown causes, too, that come into play. The thing to keep in mind is that nobody is at “fault” and there are many treatment options that should be examined.

When infertility happens in a man it is usually because there are no sperm cells or very few sperm cells. In some cases the sperm cells are not formed correctly or else they die before they can fertilize the egg. There are other cases where a genetic disorder causes infertility in men.

Women may be infertile if they suffer from an ovulation disorder. Other issues include endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, birth defects, and especially age.

Women under 35 should seek help after 12 months of trying to conceive with no pregnancy while women over 35 should seek help after six months of trying to conceive.


Last modified: February 10, 2013


The information provided here should not be considered medical advice. It is based on the average experience of women trying to conceive and may not be what you may be experiencing. It's not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your cycle or our ability to get pregnant, we advise you to contact your doctor.