Lara Morley and Anthony Rutherford discuss the investigation and treatment of this common problem
Infertility has been defined as “the inability of a sexually active couple to achieve pregnancy in one year” and is very common, with about one in six couples in the United Kingdom having problems when trying for a baby.12 A number of medical specialties are involved, depending on the cause of infertility, and include general practice, obstetrics and gynaecology, urology, psychiatry, and endocrinology. So whichever specialty of medicine you choose, you may meet people affected by this complex disorder.
As health professionals we need to be aware of the medical aspects of diagnosing and treating infertility and subfertility, while considering the psychological and social impacts on a couple unable to have their desired children. Male factors account for 30-40% of infertility, being the sole cause in about 20% of cases.3 For many couples there may be contributing factors from both the man and woman, with a cumulative impact on conception.