What is Infertility?

What is Infertility?

The Definition of Infertility: The standard definition of infertility is “the failure to conceive following one year of unprotected intercourse.”

In young, healthy couples having frequent intercourse, about 85% of them will be pregnant one year after trying to conceive. Approximately 93% will be pregnant after two years of trying to conceive.

The current definition of infertility is: "The failure to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse if 35 years of age or under, or the failure to conceive after six months if over age 35."

While this definition is useful as a guideline for who should be evaluated for infertility, rigid adherence to the definition can be a disservice to many couples desiring to create a family. Some insurance companies and health plan administrators set policies on fertility coverage based on the six months to one year definition, even though it does not apply to everyone in every situation. For example, couples with specific infertility risk factors, such as women with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or men with a history of undescended testicles, should be evaluated as soon as they plan on starting a family. The likelihood of discovering a problem that would require intervention is higher in such cases. Valuable, fertile time may be lost if evaluation and treatment are delayed. Initial infertility evaluation should be individualized, taking into consideration the medical history of the couple and the age of the female partner.

Guidelines for the Medical Evaluation of Infertility

  • Women less than 35 years of age should begin one year after trying.
  • Women 35-39 years of age should begin approximately six months following adequately timed intercourse
  • Women 40 years of age and over should begin after three months.

These guidelines are followed because we recognize that female age is one of the most important predictors of subsequent conception. When female age is a factor, moving more aggressively toward completing the evaluation and initiating treatment may be helpful to maximize the chance of pregnancy.