SIU OB/GYN Faculty

Most infertility experts agree that infertility is the appropriate diagnosis when pregnancy has not occurred after a full year of unprotected intercourse.  Many couples turn to the woman’s obstetrician/gynecologist for answers regarding their problem and are then referred to a fertility specialist when appropriate.  Other couples who suspect a problem sometimes self-refer to a fertility expert.

Causes of Infertility

In general, 50 percent of couples having difficulty conceiving have factors involving the female partner, another 35 percent involve the male partner, and the remaining 15 percent have both male and female factors that together prevent conception.

The Female Partner

Common factors related to the female partner:

Problems with the ovaries or lack of regular ovulation, which is the development or release of a healthy egg.  These may be caused by endocrine disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) that can result in irregular menstrual cycles including prolonged, infrequent or lack of periods; infertility; or recurrent miscarriages.

Problems with the fallopian tubes, the uterus, or other pelvic organs. 
Examples include:

The Male Partner

Common factors related to the male partner:

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (Repeated Miscarriages)

Although recurrent pregnancy loss may sound like a different problem than infertility, women who have had two or more consecutive miscarriages before the 20th week of pregnancy should be tested by a fertility specialist to determine the cause of the miscarriages.  Some causes are bacterial infections, specific toxins, an abnormality of the uterus, a clotting abnormality, a progesterone deficiency or immune factor.  Even after several miscarriages, women can be treated and can have a successful pregnancy.