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Infertility

Infertility is the inability of a couple to naturally conceive, carry or deliver a healthy child. The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID) considers a couple to be infertile if they have not conceived "after a year of unprotected intercourse in women under 35, or after six months in women over 35" or if they are incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects about 6.1 million people in the U.S., equivalent to ten percent of the reproductive age population. (Need to verify the following statistics.) With ninety percent of cases, doctors can identify the problem; out of this, fifty percent of the cases can be corrected. Forty percent of cases with identified problems are traced to the female, the male causes thirty to fifty percent, and the remainder are shared conditions to cause the couple's infertility.

Factors that can affect female infertility include problems with:

The chief factor in male infertility is sperm quality; the man may be producing few or no sperm, or the sperm that he produces may have poor motility (affecting its ability to reach the egg). Alcohol and drug abuse can affect sperm quality. Other possible factors include erectile dysfunction and retrograde ejaculation. Age is also believed to affect male fertility.

There are various treatments for infertility, depending what the problem is. These treatments include:

  • Fertility drugs to assist with problems ovulating. One example would be Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid, Serophene), which stimulates ovulation.
  • Surgery to fix problems such as blocked fallopian tubes.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) in which eggs are removed from the woman, fertilized and then placed in the woman's uterus, bypassing the fallopian tubes. Children produced this way are popularly known as test-tube babies.
  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer[?] (GIFT) in which eggs are removed from the woman, and placed in one of the fallopian tubes, along with the man's sperm. This allows fertilization to take place inside the woman's body.
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer[?] (ZIFT) in which eggs are removed from the woman, fertilized and then placed in the woman's fallopian tubes rather than the uterus.
  • Egg donation by another woman (in combination with IVF, GIFT or ZIFT). This happens when a woman's eggs are unusable, or she has a genetic disease that she does not want to run the risk of passing on.
  • Donor insemination which involves the woman being artificially inseminated with donor sperm.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg; the fertilized egg is then placed in the woman's uterus using IVF.
  • Using a surrogate mother to carry the child.

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