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Infertility is an inability to become pregnant, despite trying for six months to a year (depending on a woman's age). Many people believe that infertility is the woman's fault, but in reality, one-third of cases are due to problems with the man. Problems with ovulation account for most cases in women, and infertility in men is often caused by problems related to sperm production or motility.
Understanding your monthly fertility pattern -- days in the month when you are fertile, days when you are infertile, and days when fertility is unlikely but possible -- can help you either plan a pregnancy or avoid one.
It is not uncommon to have trouble becoming pregnant or to experience infertility. Infertility is diagnosed when a woman is unable to become pregnant, despite trying for one year in women under age 35, or after six months in women 35 and over. A broader view of infertility includes not being able to carry a pregnancy to term and have a baby.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects about 6.1 million Americans, or 10 percent of the reproductive-age population.
If you already understand your menstrual cycle and fertility pattern (see Fertility Charting) and are having problems getting pregnant, help and support are available. If you have a problem with fertility, learn all you can about your and your partner's health and your options for treatment.
Pregnancy is the result of a chain of events. A woman must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation). The egg must travel through a fallopian tube toward her uterus. A man's sperm must join with the egg along the way (this process is also known as fertilizing). The fertilized egg must then become attached to the inside of the uterus. While this may seem simple, in fact, many things can happen to prevent pregnancy.