If you've been trying to conceive for more than a year, there's a good chance that something may be interfering with your efforts to have a child. Infertility, also known as subfertility, is the inability to conceive a child within one year. Infertility may be due to a single cause in either you or your partner, or a combination of factors that may prevent a pregnancy from occurring or continuing.
Infertility differs from sterility. Being sterile means you're unable to conceive a child. With sterility, you or your partner has a physical problem that precludes the ability to conceive. A diagnosis of infertility simply means that becoming pregnant may be a challenge rather than an impossibility.
Complications of being infertile often involve strong emotions and may trigger negative feelings between you and your partner. These may include:
- Fear of losing partner because of infertility
- Diminished confidence and self-esteem
Most types of male infertility aren't preventable. However, avoid drug and tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, which may contribute to male infertility. Also, high temperatures can affect sperm production and motility. Although this effect is usually temporary, avoid hot tubs and steam baths.
If you're a man who's uncertain about whether you would eventually like to become a father, don't undergo permanent sterilization, such as a vasectomy. Although surgery to reverse this condition is possible, risks are involved that could affect fertility in other ways.
A woman can increase her chances of becoming pregnant in a number of ways:
- Exercise moderately. Regular exercise is important, but if you're exercising so intensely that your periods are infrequent or absent, your fertility is likely to be impaired.
- Avoid weight extremes. Being overweight or underweight can affect your hormone production and cause infertility.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and street drugs. These substances may impair your ability to conceive or produce a healthy child. Don't drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. Avoid illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
- Limit medications. The use of both prescription and nonprescription drugs can decrease your chance of getting pregnant or keeping a pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about any medications you take regularly.