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Infertility

Infertility is when a couple can't get pregnant (conceive) despite having regular unprotected sex.

Around 1 in 7 couples may have difficulty conceiving.

About 84% of couples will conceive naturally within a year if they have regular unprotected sex (every 2 or 3 days).

For couples who've been trying to conceive for more than 3 years without success, the likelihood of getting pregnant naturally within the next year is 25% or less.

Getting help

Some women get pregnant quickly, but for others it can take longer. It's a good idea to see your GP if you haven't conceived after a year of trying.

Women aged 36 and over, and anyone who's already aware they may have fertility problems, should see their GP sooner.

They can check for common causes of fertility problems and suggest treatments that could help.

Infertility is only usually diagnosed when a couple haven't managed to conceive after a year of trying.

There are 2 types of infertility:

Read more about how infertility is diagnosed.

Treating infertility

Fertility treatments include:

The treatment offered will depend on what's causing your fertility problems and what's available from your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Private treatment is also available, but it can be expensive and there's no guarantee it will be successful.

It's important to choose a private clinic carefully. You can ask your GP for advice, and should make sure you choose a clinic that's licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Read more about how infertility is treated.

Some treatments for infertility, such as IVF, can cause complications.

For example:

What causes infertility?

There are many possible causes of infertility, and fertility problems can affect either the man or the woman. But in a quarter of cases it isn't possible to identify the cause.

In women, common causes of infertility include:

In men, the most common cause of infertility is poor-quality semen.

Risk factors

There are also a number of factors that can affect fertility in both men and women.

These include:

There's no evidence to suggest caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee and colas, are associated with fertility problems.

To find out more about what you can do to protect your fertility, see: