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Infertility: Causes and When to See Your OB-GYN

Published on April 30, 2013 by Virginia Women's Center

While there is only one week a year dedicated to infertility awareness, for those who are struggling to get pregnant, it can be a daily battle. Infertility is a medical condition that affects more than six million people in the United States. While it is not always talked about, about 10 percent of couples experience difficulty getting pregnant.

Infertility can be caused both by female factors and male factors. There are many causes of infertility, but there are also times when the cause cannot be determined. Some of the causes for female infertility include:

  • Being overweight, underweight or having an eating disorder
  • Intense exercise
  • Age – the possibility of infertility increases with age
  • Stress or depression
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Brief or irregular menstrual cycles
  • Substance abuse – smoking, heavy drinking, drug use
  • Tumor or cyst
  • Thyroid problems
  • Damaged reproductive organs
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Tubal disease
  • Endometriosis


If you are trying to conceive, you may consider having an evaluation for infertility if you experience the following:

  • If you are under 35 and have not become pregnant after one year of having regular sexual intercourse without birth control
  • If you are over 35 and have not become pregnant after six months of having regular sexual intercourse without birth control
  • If your periods are not regular
  • If you or your partner has a known fertility problem


Your OB-GYN can conduct a basic fertility evaluation. Depending on what is found, he or she may refer you to a physician who specializes in fertility – a reproductive endocrinologist. A physical examination can help determine what is preventing conception. There are a wide range of options available to assist couples in achieving a successful pregnancy. They include lifestyle changes, behavioral modifications, drug treatments and surgeries.

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