Infertility is when you cannot conceive or have children.
It refers to when a couple have been unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse. About one in 9 Australian couples of reproductive age experiences fertility problems.
There are many causes of infertility. For about 2 in 5 couples it will be due to a sperm problem; in another 2 in 5 couples, there will be a problem with the woman's reproductive system. Sometimes it will be due to a combination of factors — or there will be no apparent cause.
If you are a woman, your fertility may be affected by:
- your age
- problems with your fallopian tubes
- endometriosis or an ovulation problem
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
- any fibroids
- if you have pelvic inflammatory disease or a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- your weight and if you smoke
Adult male fertility may be affected by:
- problems with the tubes that connect to the testes
- low sperm production
- high numbers of abnormal sperm
- making antibodies that attack sperm
- genetic problems
- problems with the sperm DNA
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Last reviewed: June 2020