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Causes of infertility in couples having IVF/ICSI

The term infertility is defined as the inability to conceive despite regular and unprotected intercourse for 1 years. However, risk factors such as the woman's age, abnormal menstrual periods, history of pelvic inflammatory disease and whether there has been previous abdominal or pelvic surgery, history of undescended testicles may warrant earlier investigations and treatment of infertility. Couples should be aware that 80% will conceive within a year.

Infertility is classified into two types:

  • Primary infertility if there was no previous pregnancy (approximately 40% of infertile couples).
  • Secondary infertility if there was a previous pregnancy whatever the outcome (approximately 60% of infertile couples).

Incidence of infertility

Natural conception depends on satisfactory ovulation, transport of viable sperm and egg into the female reproductive system. Natural conception is influenced by hormonal control, timing and frequency of intercourse as well as the general health status of the couple. Infertility affects one in five couples and affects both men and women.

It is important to remember that the majority of infertile couples can achieve a pregnancy and livebirth with treatment,  they are subfertile. Only a minority of patients are sterile, i.e. even with treatment they would be unable to conceive. This could be due to no sperm , absent or non-functioning ovaries or an absent uterus (womb).