Infertility is the inability of a person, animal or plant to reproduce by natural means. It is usually not the natural state of a healthy adult, except notably among certain eusocial species (mostly haplodiploid insects). In humans, infertility is the inability to become pregnant/impregnate or carry a pregnancy to full term. There are many causes of infertility, including some that medical intervention can treat. Estimates from 1997 suggest that worldwide about five percent of all heterosexual couples have an unresolved problem with infertility. Many more couples, however, experience involuntary childlessness for at least one year: estimates range from 12% to 28%.” 20-30% of infertility cases are due to male infertility, 20-35% are due to female infertility, and 25-40% are due to combined problems in both parts. In 10-20% of cases, no cause is found. The most common cause of female infertility is ovulatory problems which generally manifest themselves by sparse or absent menstrual periods. Male infertility is most commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fecundity. Women who are fertile experience a natural period of fertility before and during ovulation, and they are naturally infertile for the rest of the menstrual cycle. Fertility awareness methods are used to discern when these changes occur by tracking changes in cervical mucus or basal body temperature.
“Demographers tend to define infertility as childlessness in a population of women of reproductive age,” whereas “the epidemiological definition refers to “trying for” or “time to” a pregnancy, generally in a population of women exposed to” a probability of conception. Currently, female fertility normally peaks at age 24 and diminishes after 30, with pregnancy occurring rarely after age 50. A female is most fertile within 24 hours of ovulation. Male fertility peaks usually at age 25 and declines after age 40. The time needed to pass (during which the couple tries to conceive) for that couple to be diagnosed with infertility differs between different jurisdictions. Existing definitions of infertility lack uniformity, rendering comparisons in prevalence between countries or over time problematic. Therefore, data estimating the prevalence of infertility cited by various sources differs significantly. A couple that tries unsuccessfully to have a child after a certain period of time (often a short period, but definitions vary) is sometimes said to be sub fertile, meaning less fertile than a typical couple. Both infertility and sub-fertility are defined as the inability to conceive after a certain period of time (the length of which vary), so often the two terms overlap.
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