Get the facts about infertility: National Infertility Awareness Week

National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW) began in 1989 with a goal to raise awareness about infertility and to encourage the public to understand their reproductive health. During the week tell the world (or Facebook and Twitter) that people with infertility matter and ask them to help you spread the word. To guide you through a few ins and outs, here are some easy facts to get you started.

What is infertility?

Infertility is the inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy within a certain period of time. For couples under the age of 35, infertility is diagnosed when they fail to conceive after 1 year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. In addition, couples who are able to conceive but experience repeat miscarriages may also be considered having infertility. If she is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse. After a diagnosis many couples begin infertility treatments.

Who is affected by infertility?

Infertility is a medical problem. Approximately 30% of infertility is due to a female factor and 30% is due to a male factor. In the rest of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility is not identified (unexplained infertility).

What are the risk factors?

Weight, age, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tubal disease, endometriosis, DES exposure, smoking, alcohol and even autoimmunity are some of the major risk factors for infertility.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Often there are no signs or symptoms associated with infertility, other than the inability to conceive. Listen to your body and get regular checkups. Early detection and treatment are critical to achieve successful pregnancies.

How is infertility treated?

Medical technology offer more answers and treatment options to men and women trying to conceive a child, from hormonal treatments, ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination to more advanced technologies like in vitro fertilization, ICSI to surrogacy, egg/sperm donation and even embryo donation.

What medications are used?

There are a variety of medications used to treat infertility. It is important to understand the medications and what their purpose is and to speak with your physician about the medications that will be used in your specific treatment plan.

What is artificial insemination?

Artificial insemination, or intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure used for couples with minimal male infertility, and women with cervical mucus problems. (Some physicians use IUI in couples with “unexplained infertility,” but since we don’t believe in the concept of “unexplained infertility,” we don’t routinely use IUI for this indication. Instead, we try, and usually are able, to get down to the root of the problem before trying random treatment.) In IUI, the husband’s or donor’s sperm is washed and prepared, then injected it into the partner’s uterus during the time of ovulation. At CHR, IUI is usually combined with ovulation induction to achieve maximum pregnancy chances.

What is In Vitro or IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) gets its name from the fact that fertilization occurs outside of the woman’s body, in a lab dish instead of a woman’s fallopian tubes. Typically, a woman undergoes ovarian simulation to produce multiple mature eggs. These eggs are micro-surgically retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized in dish with sperm. If fertilization takes place, the physician transfers the embryo(s) into the women’s uterus.

All this week help spread the word about infertility through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. There are many infertility treatments available for hopeful parents struggling with this condition and it’s important for them to know that they’re not alone.