Human Reproduction, Seminars: Infertility, Overview  
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Infertility is a relatively common problem that affects between two and four million American couples or approximately 10% to 15% of the reproductive age range population. More couples now seek infertility evaluations, which may reflect the increased availability of infertility-related services and an increased media focus on medical advances in reproductive technology. The definition of infertility is one year of unprotected coitus without conception. Presently, the mean age of a woman who first gives birth is now three years older than that of a woman born 20 years ago. Postponement of pregnancy after marriage is the most significant change that has led to a decline of fertility in the United States. Thus, couples are seeking to have children at later ages in life, ages at which it is the most difficult to achieve a pregnancy.

The scope of infertility The scope of infertility. Age related decline in fertility contributes to the scope of infertility. Credits: Serono Laboratories

Other possible factors may contribute include changing roles and aspirations for women, increasing use of CONTRACEPTION / SEXUAL DIFFERENTIATION, liberalized abortion, and concerns over environmental and unfavorable economic. Sources of infertility are generally thought to be divided among male, female and of these factors.

Prime causes of infertility Prime causes of infertility. Causes of infertility in the U.S. Credits: Serono Laboratories

Each ovulatory cycle in a normal couple without a fertility problem results in a 20% to 25% chance of conception. In couples with regular, unprotected intercourse, 57% conceive in three months, 72% in six months, 85% in one year, and 93% in two years. Some common misinformation that is propagated is that once a couple adopts it is easier for them to conceive. This is not proven accurate. While stress certainly complicates an infertility situation, as long as a woman has normal regular cycles it does not appear that stress causes infertility.