Infertilty is defined as not achieving a pregnancy after having regular unprotected sex for 12 months, or less for older women. About 1 in 5 couples will at some time have difficulty in conceiving. The best chance of a fertile couple achieving pregnancy is about 20 percent in the first month of trying. At 6 months, 60 percent of couples will achieve pregnancy and by 12 months, 80 to 85 percent will achieve pregnancy.

Women older than 35 years old or those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day can take twice as long to conceive. By age 43, the pregnancy rate is thought to be less than 1 percent per month. In addition, there is an increase in the risk of miscarriage as a woman ages.

The timing of intercourse is important and it should happen 3 times a week around the expected time of ovulation. If you are having problems conceiving there is also a host of lifestyle issues to consider for both improving fertility and reducing pregnancy complications. These can be discussed with your doctor.

The causes of fertility problems are equally shared between men and women. In some cases the cause may be unknown. Assisted fertility may be worth considering. There are various treatments available depending on the couple’s circumstances. Examples include ovulation induction, assisted insemination, in-vitro fertilisation, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, embryo freezing, and egg and sperm donation. For most of these services a referral to a specialist practice is necessary.

Reproductive Health FAQs