The Inability to Conceive

Infertility is when a woman cannot get pregnant (conceive). There are two types of infertility:

  • Primary infertility is when a woman under 35 years of age is unable to conceive after having regular, unprotected sex for one year. Or when a woman who is 35 years old or older cannot get pregnant after having regular, unprotected sex for six months.
  • Secondary infertility is when a woman who has been pregnant at least once before cannot get pregnant again.

There are many possible causes of infertility. Sometimes, a female infertility issue can be tied to a reproductive system or menstrual disorder. But it’s important to know that infertility is not just caused by problems in the woman's body. It may be due to factors in the woman, the man or both. And sometimes the cause is unknown.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Infertility itself has no signs or symptoms other than not being able to get pregnant. However, if your period is irregular or you don’t have a period, it could mean you’re not ovulating, and you cannot conceive without ovulation.

Your doctor can diagnose infertility by reviewing your medical history, conducting a physical exam and performing blood, imaging and other tests – including hormone and ovulation testing. Diagnosing infertility in men also involves a review of medical history, a physical exam and testing – including a semen analysis and hormone testing.

Most couples who have been diagnosed with infertility require treatment to get pregnant – only around 1 in 5 will eventually conceive without treatment. A prompt diagnosis and treatment are especially important if you’re a woman who is at 35 years of age or above. This is because infertility problems and miscarriage rates increase greatly after this age for women. With proper treatment, most couples with infertility are able to conceive.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Infertility Consultations Through Telehealth

Time is important when you’re looking to resolve your fertility issues. Our team helps you access infertility care in a quicker, more convenient way through our Telehealth infertility consultations. Because it’s convenient, you may receive treatment earlier than was previously possible.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Care

We use the most advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques - including robotic-assisted surgery - in cases where surgery is required to diagnose or treat infertility. These procedures are more careful at protecting your fertility because they don’t require large incisions and are more precise than open surgery. Minimally invasive procedures also allow for a quicker healing time with less pain.

Innovative Treatments Through Clinical Trials

Our doctors are dedicated to improving outcomes for women and couples with infertility. One way we’re improving outcomes is through clinical trials. The trials we run offer innovative treatment options for our patients that may not be available elsewhere. Clinical trials are particularly useful when other treatments have not ended in a successful pregnancy.

Fertility Preservation Through Egg Freezing

In addition to our other fertility preservation methods, our team also offers egg freezing. This gives women – even those in their 20s – the opportunity to ensure a successful pregnancy later in life should they need to delay it for medical reasons or wish to postpone it for personal reasons.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

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Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center is a Catholic health facility and, as such, abides by the U.S. Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services. As with all medical decisions, we advise patients to discuss any course of treatment with their health care provider.

Penn State Health provides a variety of options for treatment. Not all Penn State Health hospitals and clinics provide the same options. When calling for an appointment, please verify when scheduling.