Infertility is a very common condition estimated to affect approximately 1 in 8 couples. This may even be an underestimate since many couples never end up seeking care. As patient awareness and education increases, the number of couples seeking care and achieving their goal of family building will increase. Presently the CDC estimates that ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) accounts for slightly more than 1% of total U.S. births. There were 142,435 ART cycles reported in 2007 and 57,569 infants born as a result of ART cycles in 2007. These numbers only reflect those births where the babies were conceived via in-vitro fertilization procedures. There are many couples who can conceive with simpler and less expensive treatment than in-vitro fertilization. They key is to seek care early so that appropriate interventions and treatment can be done in a timely fashion.
Generally, it is recommended that if the female partner is under age 35 and the couple has been trying at least for a year without success then they should consider undergoing an evaluation to identify any factors that can contribute to infertility. If the female partner is over age 35, then it is best to seek an evaluation after 6 months of trying without success. This is of course true assuming that there are no known causes of infertility present such as blocked tubes or lack of ovulation or poor sperm etc. If there is a known cause then evaluation should be sought ASAP.
When a couple decides they want to start the process of getting evaluated for infertility they could either go to their Ob Gyn, PCP or come directly to a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist. Simple treatment and be initiated with the Obgyn however studies have shown that time to pregnancy is the shortest with a specialist. Typically once pregnant, the patient is followed by the reproductive endocrinologist until about 8-10 weeks gestation and then referred back to their obgyn for continued obstetric care.
Seeking care in a timely fashion is very important. There are many causes of infertility that are amenable to simple treatment options and chances of successful conception are high for many couples.