The World Health Organization (WHO) defines primary infertility as the failure to achieve clinical pregnancy (or presenting spontaneous abortions) after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse when a woman is younger than 35 years old (a period that is shortened to 6 months in women over 35).
On the other hand, The World Health Organization (WHO) describes secondary infertility as the impossibility to conceive in a couple who has already conceived in the past, but begins to face problems to do it again after a year of regular unprotected intercourse.
It is important to understand that pregnancy is the result of a complex reproductive process that consists of different phases:
The woman's ovary must release a healthy egg (ovulation).
The egg must travel towards the uterus through a healthy fallopian tube.
The man's healthy sperm must reach the same spot and fuse with the woman's egg (fertilization) on its path through the fallopian tube.
The resulting embryo must reach a healthy uterine cavity and adhere to the endometrium (implantation) and develop appropriately for nine months.
Often we imagine that having children is the easiest and most natural thing in the world; however, since pregnancy is the result of a complex reproductive process, the reality is not always so.
Fertility problems and treatments
Fertility problems occur equally in both genders. Approximately 40 percent of the infertility cases are due specifically to male factors, while 40 percent can be attributed to female factors.
Other causes of infertility are due to a combination of individual fertility problems (10 percent) in the couple and the remaining 10 percent of cases of infertility are determined as unexplainable.
Infertility is a medical condition which relaxation alone will not solve. Stress and other emotions are the result of infertility and not its cause. Sexual positions have no effect on fertility.
If you have trouble conceiving, raising your hip or even doing a headstand will make no difference. A timely diagnosis is essential to obtain a proper fertility treatment. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an expert as soon as the couple’s fertility is in doubt.
Most conditions causing infertility can be solved through low-complexity assisted reproductive treatments, such as drug induced ovulation.
High-complexity treatments such as In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are only used to help couples which conditions would have prevented them from having children (damaged fallopian tubes, low sperm count, etc.) to realize their dream of being parents.
Can you prevent infertility?
In most cases infertility cannot be prevented, however a healthy lifestyle can help you avoid many of the diseases that can cause fertility problems. Abortion malpractice or sexually transmitted diseases can affect fertility.
However, these can be prevented with proper use of contraceptive methods. Other preventive measure is acquiring a healthy lifestyle: a good diet, regular exercise, stress management and avoiding habits such as alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking and recreational drug use.
It is important to know that women who want to postpone motherhood or those suffering from diseases like cancer or lupus (and must undergo toxic treatments) can prevent infertility by clinically freezing their eggs.