Ages & Stages: Pregnancy: What is infertility?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a national health organization committed to promoting reproductive and pregnancy wellness through education, research, advocacy and community awareness, infertility is a condition of the reproductive system that impairs the conception of children. It affects approximately 6.1 million individuals throughout the United States. The diagnosis of infertility is usually given to couples who have been attempting to conceive for at least 1 year without success. Conception and pregnancy are complicated processes that depend upon many factors:

the production of healthy sperm by the man
healthy eggs produced by the woman
unblocked fallopian tubes that allow the sperm to reach the egg
the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg when they meet
the ability of the fertilized egg (embryo) to become implanted in the woman’s uterus
sufficient embryo quality

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Kelly James-Enger is the coauthor of “The Belated Baby: Parenting After Infertility” (with Jill S. Browning, Cumberland House, 2008).