ART refers to treatments and procedures that aim to achieve pregnancy.
These complex procedures may be an option for people who have already gone through various infertility treatment options but who still have not achieved pregnancy. Those interested in ART should discuss the options with their health care provider and may need to consult a fertility specialist.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) are medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. It includes procedures such as in vitro fertilization. It may include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), cryopreservation of gametes or embryos, and/or may involve the use of fertility medication. When used to address infertility, it may also be referred to as fertility treatment. ART mainly belongs to the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Some forms of ART are also used with regard to fertile couples for genetic reasons (preimplantation genetic diagnosis). ART may also be used in surrogacy arrangements, although not all surrogacy arrangements involve ART.
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Infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. There are 2 types of infertility: Primary infertility refers to couples who have not become pregnant after at least 1 year having sex without using birth control methods. Secondary infertility refers to couples who have been able to get pregnant at least once, but now are unable. Up to 15 percent of couples are infertile. This means they aren't able to conceive a child, even though they've had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In over a third of these couples, male infertility plays a role.
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Male infertility refers to a male's inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. In humans it accounts for 40–50% of infertility. It affects approximately 7% of all men. Male infertility is commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fecundity. The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases, however, an underlying problem such as an inherited disorder, a hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm causes signs and symptoms.
Although most men with male infertility do not notice symptoms other than the inability to conceive a child, signs and symptoms associated with male infertility include:
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Infertility can be caused by problems that affect sperm production or how the sperm travels. There are medical tests that can help work out the cause.
About two-thirds of infertile men have a problem where they make low numbers of sperm and/or sperm that don’t work properly.
About one in five infertile men have other physical problems, including those who’ve had a vasectomy but now want to have children. Blockages (often called obstructions) in the tubes leading from the testicles to the penis can stop you ejaculating sperm.
Other less common causes of infertility include:
Sexual problems that affect whether semen is able to enter the vagina (one in 100 infertile couples)
Low levels of hormones made in the pituitary gland (a hormone controller in the brain) that affect the testicles (one in 100 infertile men)
Sperm antibodies (proteins that fight against sperm, which are found in one in 16 infertile men). In most men, sperm antibodies will not affect the chance of a pregnancy, but in some cases it can reduce your fertility.
Sometimes, male infertility is simply genetic.
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Infertility results from female factors about one-third of the time and male factors about one-third of the time. The cause is either unknown or a combination of male and female factors in the remaining cases.
Female infertility causes can be difficult to diagnose. There are many available treatments, which will depend on the cause of infertility. Many infertile couples will go on to conceive a child without treatment. After trying to get pregnant for two years, about 95 percent of couples successfully conceive.
The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant. A menstrual cycle that's too long (35 days or more), too short (less than 21 days), irregular or absent can mean that you're not ovulating. There may be no other outward signs or symptoms.
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