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Sunday, April 8, 2007

Infertility -- Fast Facts

  • Approximately 6.1 million couples in the United States ‑- or 10 percent of all couples of childbearing age ‑- have difficulty conceiving, according to the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC).
  • About one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to males, another one-third to females and the remaining one-third to both members of a couple. At least 10 percent of infertility cases go unexplained, although these couples often later succeed in becoming pregnant.
  • Ovulation abnormalities and sperm deficiencies are responsible for two-thirds of infertility problems.
  • About 20 percent of infertility cases are the result of fallopian tube disease, according to the NWHRC.
  • Between 30 and 40 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • The sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most important preventable causes of infertility, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Between 75 and 85 percent of fertility problems are diagnosed after a patient's initial evaluation.
  • Most women are about 30 percent less fertile in their late 30s than they were in their early 20s, according to the National Women's Health Resource Center.
  • In 85 to 90 percent of all cases, infertility is treated with either medication or surgery, according to the NWHRC. Just 5 percent of infertility treatments involve in vitro fertilization or other kinds of assisted reproductive technologies, in which a laboratory is used to try to help a couple become pregnant.
  • More than 70,000 babies have been born in the United States using assisted reproductive technologies, including 45,000 born as a result of in vitro fertilization, according to the NWHRC.
  • Women are most fertile during ovulation, which occurs around the 14th day of their menstrual cycle. However, the exact time of ovulation varies among women due to normal differences in the length of the menstrual cycle.
  • When no fertility problems are present, the average couple between ages 29 and 33 has about a 20 to 25 percent chance of becoming pregnant during any given menstrual cycle, according to the NWHRC.
  • The greatest odds of fertilization occur in the first 12 hours after the sperm are ejaculated in the vagina. However, sperm can fertilize the egg for up to 72 hours after ejaculation.

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