Cervix: Improper production of cervical mucus can prevent pregnancy. Rarely the sole cause of infertility.
Endometriosis: Pelvic scar tissues that can block successful pregnancy. Found in about 35 percent of women with no other diagnosable problem.
Male factor: In 40 percent of infertile couples, the male partner is either the sole or contributing cause.
Multiple causes: 25 percent of couples have more than one factor contributing to infertility.
Ovulation: Irregular or abnormal ovulation that prevents conception. About 25 percent of cases.
Tubal problems: Blocked or scarred fallopian tubes that prevent conception. About 35 percent of cases.
Unexplained: No clear cause can be found in up to 10 percent of cases.
Uterus: In five percent of cases, defects in the uterus can interfere with implantation of the embryo.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Egg retrieval: The egg is removed from the ovary by one of two methods. One uses an ultrasound probe and a suction device inserted through the vagina. The other, laparoscopy, uses a thin, optical tube inserted through an incision near the navel. The egg is removed by suction.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): The direct transfer of a mixture of sperm and eggs into the fallopian tube. Fertilization takes place inside the tube. GIFT is used in women with healthy fallopian tubes. Pregnancy rates are slightly higher with GIFT than in IVF.
Gestational carrier: A woman who carries a pregnancy to term for a couple. The egg and sperm of the couple are used, therefore the carrier has no genetic relation to the child.
Insemination: The injection of sperm into the uterus or cervix.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A single sperm is injected into an egg.
In Vitro (Latin for in glass): A man's sperm and a woman's egg are combined in a laboratory dish. The fertilized egg that has begun cell division - an embryo - is transferred to the woman's uterus.
Ovulation induction: sometimes called "super-ovulation." The woman takes drugs that stimulate her ovaries to produce several mature eggs rather than just one. In some women, one cycle can yield more than 20 eggs.
Surrogate parent: A woman is inseminated with the male partner's sperm. She is the genetic mother of the child.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT): A zygote - a fertilized egg before cell division begins - is transferred to the fallopian tubes. Also called PROST, which stands for pronuclear stage transfer.
Risks of IVF/GIFT
Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy in the fallopian tube or outside the uterus lining.
Hyperstimulation syndrome: Ovaries become swollen and painful. The woman feels bloated, nauseated and may experience vomiting. 10 percent of ovulation induction patients experience some kind of hyperstimulation syndrome.
Multiple pregnancy: Women carrying multiple pregnancies are more likely to need to spend weeks or months in bed and are more likely to miscarry or give birth prematurely.
Ovarian cancer: Recent studies link ovulation drugs and increased risk for ovarian cancer.
Success Rates: More than half of couples who seek infertility treatment get pregnant. Most only need drugs or surgery.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): 21.1%
Donor oocytes: 46.8% live births per transfer
(source: American Society for Reproductive Medicine)