Fertility problems are sometimes called infertility or subfertility. This is when a couple are not getting pregnant even though they are having regular sex with no contraception.
Fertility problems can affect men and women. They can affect heterosexual couples and same-sex couples.
Around 1 in 6 heterosexual couples in Ireland may experience infertility. But 85% of couples will conceive a child naturally after one year of trying. This figure rises to 95% after two years.
‘Trying’ means having regular unprotected sex every 2 to 3 days.
If you are a man or a woman in a same-sex relationship, you may need some fertility treatments. What treatment is needed depends on the path to parenthood that you choose.
There are a number of things that can cause fertility problems. Some of these problems can be treated. In 20% of infertility cases, no cause is ever found.
See your GP if you are worried about your fertility. They will be able to offer advice, examine you and arrange tests.
The next steps taken by your GP depend on:
- your own situation and any medical issues you may have
- your age
- how long you have been trying to get pregnant
- any findings from a physical examination
- results of blood tests
- results of semen analysis
You may need to see a fertility specialist or a gynaecologist. They might recommend more tests or to begin treatment.
Generally speaking, there are two types of fertility problems:
This is when a couple who has never been pregnant is experiencing infertility.
This is when a couple has had one or more previous pregnancies but is now struggling to conceive.