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A diagnosis of infertility doesn’t mean your dreams of conceiving have come to an end. Up to 15 percent of all couples are infertile—though only one to two percent is actually sterile and unable to conceive at all. Of all the “infertile” couples, half are able to eventually have a child, either on their own or with the help of medical alternatives.
Infertility is not just a woman’s problem—men can be infertile, too. In fact, men and women are equally likely to have a fertility problem. About one-third of infertility cases are attributable to the woman; another third are caused by men’s problems; the final third could be a combination of the man and woman, or have no known cause at all.
During ovulation, a woman releases an egg from one of her ovaries. The egg travels through a fallopian tube toward the uterus. During sexual intercourse, a man’s sperm enters the woman’s body and travels to meet the descending egg. If the sperm meets and joins the egg along the way, the egg is fertilized. A fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus. There, the fertilized egg will grow and develop into a baby. If there are any interruptions in this process, infertility may arise.
By definition, a couple is infertile when they are unable to conceive and bring a child to full term after they’ve had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a year.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on Jun 16, 2011
Updated on Oct 11, 2012
Medically reviewed by Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH
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