Around 1 in 7 couples may have difficulty conceiving.
About 84% of couples will conceive naturally within a year if they have regular unprotected sex (every 2 or 3 days).
For couples who have been trying to conceive for more than 3 years without success, the likelihood of getting pregnant naturally within the next year is 1 in 4, or less.
Infertility is usually only diagnosed when a couple have not managed to conceive after a year of trying.
There are 2 types of infertility:
- primary infertility – where someone who’s never conceived a child in the past has difficulty conceiving
- secondary infertility – where someone has had 1 or more pregnancies in the past, but is having difficulty conceiving again
What Causes Infertility?
There are many possible causes of infertility, and fertility problems can affect either partner. But in a quarter of cases it is not possible to identify the cause.
Common causes of infertility include:
- lack of regular ovulation (the monthly release of an egg)
- poor quality semen
- blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- endometriosis – where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (the endometrium) is found outside the womb
There are also several factors that can affect fertility.
fertility declines with age
being overweight or obese (having a BMI of 30 or over) reduces fertility; in women, being overweight or severely underweight can affect ovulation
sexually transmitted infections (STIs) : several STIs, including chlamydia, can affect fertility
can affect fertility: smoking (including passive smoking) affects your chance of conceiving and can reduce semen quality; read more about quitting smoking
the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Drinking too much alcohol can also affect the quality of sperm (the chief medical officers for the UK recommend adults should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, which should be spread evenly over 3 days or more)
exposure to certain pesticides, solvents and metals has been shown to affect fertility, particularly in men
can affect your relationship with your partner and cause a loss of sex drive; in severe cases, stress may also affect ovulation and sperm production
There’s no evidence to suggest caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee and colas, are associated with fertility problems.