Infertility affects about one in six Australian couples of reproductive age. The causes of infertility for every patient or couple I see are unique to their situation, so it’s important to determine what may be the underlying causes of infertility early on. After your initial consultation, both partners will need to undertake a number of fertility tests to identify the correct diagnosis.
In some cases, we may need to diagnose unexplained infertility – but this doesn’t mean you won’t conceive. IVF treatment has a high success rate for many different causes of infertility, and we will determine the best plan for your situation.
Potential causes of infertility
Infertility has a wide range of possible causes, with age being the most significant factor. A woman is born with a set number of eggs, and these decrease in quantity and quality as she ages. While this doesn’t happen to a man’s sperm, changing health and lifestyle factors as you age can also have a negative impact on sperm quality – and around half of the couples I see have a male factor causing infertility.
Other causes of infertility can be:
- Endometriosis, fibroids, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women
- Hormonal problems, chromosomal abnormalities or tubal blockages in men
- Lifestyle factors like smoking, excessive drinking or obesity in both partners
One third of all infertile couples have a combination of female and male factors. As a couple it is important to support each other physically and emotionally through your fertility investigation and treatment.
What if the cause is unexplained infertility?
This is one of the most common diagnoses, so while it may seem frustrating not to have a clear answer, it’s important not to lose hope if the results of your fertility tests indicate unexplained infertility.
We can carry out further investigations, to identify whether the underlying reasons are more complex. Sometimes – through laparoscopy for example – the investigation itself can help you go on to conceive naturally. But in many cases, especially if you are over 35 years of age and have been trying to fall pregnant for some time, IVF treatment is the best possible course.