Infertility is defined according to a woman's age, as the female reproductive system changes rapidly with time. The classic definition of infertility is the inability to conceive, or to carry a pregnancy to term within one year of unprotected intercourse. For women over the age of 35, this timeframe is shortened to 6 months. This age adjustment enables the fertility treatment process to begin sooner to accommodate natural changes in egg production and viability.
Those who have known health conditions that may impact fertility, such as irregular periods (anovulation), PCOS, endometriosis or male factor infertility, should seek a fertility specialist as soon as they are ready to start a family.
Pregnancy is the result of a multi-stage process:
- A woman's body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus.
- A man's sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way.
- The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Infertility can result from a problem with any one of these steps.