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When you don’t immediately get pregnant after a few months of trying, it can be easy to jump to the conclusion that you must have trouble conceiving, but (to use those dreaded words), it can take time. On the other hand, we’re often told that it is better to seek help sooner rather than later. But how soon is too soon?

At what point does difficulty getting pregnant become infertility?

Doctors define infertility as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse at the appropriate times of the month, i.e. during ovulation. A diagnosis of infertility is based on the fact that you are having sex at the right time, but without the intended results.

Women’s fertility declines with age, and so for women over the age of 35, the definition becomes the inability to conceive after six months of trying. The time limit is also six months for men with a low sperm count, and some women with a history of menstrual problems (pelvic inflammatory disease, irregular periods, etc.).

Infertility also includes the inability to carry a pregnancy to term, resulting in a live birth. Couples who have experienced miscarried pregnancies or stillbirths also typically fall into the six month category.

Infertility is not a sexual disorder. It is a medical condition. Numbers vary, but roughly one third of cases are a medical condition affecting the woman, one third affecting the male, and another third either unexplained or a result of both male and female factors.

Whatever the cause, infertility truly affects both partners, but fortunately, a number of treatments are now available.

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