A couple is considered infertile when, after one year of sexual intercourse without contraception, they have not achieved pregnancy.
Sterility is – according to the World Health Organization and the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) – the inability to gestate in a couple after one year of normal sexual relations with the aim of having children without using contraceptive methods.
According to data from the Spanish Fertility Society (SEF), about 85% of couples achieve pregnancy within a year, and up to one in three pregnancies occur in the first three months after trying.
We are therefore dealing with an incapacity that can originate in one or both members of the couple. However, at present, more than half of the cases of infertility in a couple have their origin in the male factor. In turn, infertility can cause various psychological problems, anxiety, stress… And these, in turn, can lead to others, such as the inability to get and/or maintain an erection, which can lead to nervousness when initiating a sexual relationship, generate a lack of sexual desire… It is therefore a vicious circle that can generate various problems.
I am a man, how can I know if I am sterile?
If you have been trying to have a child with your partner for more than a year, having unprotected sex and you do not get the expected result, it is considered that there is a problem of infertility in the couple, either by a male or female factor.
In the first place, you should see a specialist, who will make a thorough assessment of the situation.
However, there are some risk factors that should be taken into account:
- Lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle, overweight or obesity may play a role.
- Consumption habits. Smoking tobacco or taking drugs can cause male infertility.
- Vaccination against mumps.
- Use sexually transmitted disease prevention methods.
I am a woman, how can I know if I am sterile?
In the case of women, there are two tendencies when talking about sterility or infertility. For example, in the case of a woman under 35 years of age, we speak of sterility when, after a year of trying to get pregnant, she has not been able to do so. On the other hand, if the woman is older than 35 or 40 years of age, sterility occurs after six months.
In the case of women, fertility is directly related to age, since, after the age of 40, fertility decreases -both in the quality and quantity of the eggs-, and approximately half of them begin to be infertile. In fact, a woman’s fertile period has an expiration date: menopause.
It is estimated that 25% of women achieve pregnancy within six months of trying, and between six and twelve months, the chances of achieving pregnancy are greater. Therefore, when a woman of 35 years of age or younger who has been trying to get pregnant for twelve months, or a woman over 35 who has been trying for six months or more without success, should see a specialist.
Infertility in Spain
Infertility in Spaniards is on the rise. This is probably due to the fact that the age of parenthood is getting later and later, since in the last ten years the age of having children has been delayed by two years.
In fact, it is estimated that about 17% of couples -around 80,000 thousand- are infertile in Spain, and this figure is on the rise. Precariousness, the difficulty in keeping a job or the inability to become independent has increasingly delayed the time to have children in Spain.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and the Spanish Fertility Society, assisted reproduction treatments increased by 28% in Spain in the last five years. And is that, in 2018 in Spain almost 150 thousand cycles of In Vitro Fertilization (149337) were performed, as well as more than 30 thousand (34100) cases of artificial insemination.
The road to fertility
In order to achieve pregnancy, it is important to remain calm and not get nervous. In fact, it is estimated that about eight out of ten women achieve pregnancy in the first 12/18 months after trying.
In addition, the following guidelines or advice are recommended:
- Have unprotected sex every two to three days. These sexual relations should ideally take place during the woman’s fertile phase.
- In addition, it is important that both partners lead a healthy lifestyle, with a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
At the same time, in the case of failure, there are different assisted reproduction alternatives to take into account that achieve satisfactory success rates. In fact, data from the Spanish Fertility Society indicate that almost 70% of couples treated with assisted reproduction methods achieve pregnancy within five years.
Thus, there are different assisted reproduction techniques that can help achieve pregnancy, the most used in Spain, according to the specialists of HC Fertility – The Fertility Center of the International Hospital HC Marbella, are “in vitro fertilization (IVF), ICSI, ovodonation, the IAC cycle and artificial insemination”.
If you think you have infertility problems or have any doubts about how the different assisted reproduction techniques work, consult a specialist.