Understanding Infertility

Infertility is one of the most challenging problems a couple will face in their relationship. It is usually the most frustrating because the couple will attempt everything within their power and still have no results. Guilt, depression and anxiety often complicate the process of having a family because often the problem is beyond their control. “It is not supposed to be work; it is just supposed to happen.” Many have tried for years without success and their dream for parenthood feels as if it is fading away.

About 6 million Americans, 10 percent of the reproductive age population, are infertile. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, a couple is considered infertile if they have had unprotected intercourse for a year and no pregnancy has resulted.  Some say this is 6 months if the female is over 35 years of age. Many couple’s first approach to dealing with infertility is a visit to their obstetrician/gynecologist who is usually capable of evaluating and treating many basic forms of infertility. If the couple is unsuccessful, they are usually referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist, a specialist in infertility. 

Reproductive Endocrinology is a sub-specialty within Obstetrics and Gynecology. A Reproductive Endocrinologist receives special training to diagnose and treat problems such as infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, hormonal imbalances and menopause. A board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist has undergone 2-3 additional years of training beyond their OB/GYN training; passed a second written examination and a second oral examination in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility; after a minimum of one year of independent practice. To date, there are less than 800 physicians with this distinction.