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Infertility faqs

We answer some frequently asked questions on infertility -- its causes, signs and treatments available.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 10, 2012 23:49 IST

We answer some frequently asked questions on infertility -- its causes, signs and treatments available.

How can I tell if I'm infertile?
You may be infertile if you haven't been able to conceive or stay pregnant after one year of trying. Or if you are 35 years or older and haven't been able to conceive even after six months. One in eight couples aged between 15 and 44 years have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.

How common is infertility in men?
One in three infertility cases is due to health problems in men. Some factors that lower the quality or sperm count include ageing, smoking, drugs, heavy drinking, environmental toxins such as pesticide and lead, health problems such as mumps, kidney disease or hormone imbalances, radiation or chemotherapy for cancer.

What are the signs of infertility?
A woman's chances of conception decrease rapidly after 35 years. Smoking, excess alcohol, stress, being overweight or underweight and sexually-transmitted infections lower chances of conception. Visit a doctor if you have erratic, painful or no periods, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, have suffered more than one miscarriage, polycystic ovarian syndrome (a hormone imbalance problem), primary ovarian insufficiency, blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, surgery for ectopic pregnancy and uterine fibroids.

What are some popular assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods?
* In vitro fertilisation (IVF): The woman is administered hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Once mature, the eggs are removed and fertilised in the lab. After 3 to 5 days, healthy embryos are implanted in the uterus.
* Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): Fertilisation occurs in the laboratory and the embryo is transferred to the fallopian tube.
* Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): This involves transferring eggs and sperms to the fallopian tube for fertilisation to occur in the body.
* Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): It is used for those with several failed IVF attempts. In ICSI, a single sperm is injected into a mature egg. Then the embryo is transferred to the uterus or fallopian tube.
* ART procedures sometimes involve the use of donor eggs (eggs from another woman), donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos.