It is estimated that nearly one in every five couples is unable to produce children. In some cases, this infertility creates very little concern and may even be welcome. Most often, however, it becomes a source of frustration and great unhappiness to men and women whose sense of self-esteem is somehow tied to their ability to become parents. Fortunately, the advances of modern medicine have made it possible to help many of them.
A couple's infertility may have one or more of many different causes affecting either the man, or the woman, or both. They range from simple sexual inexperience to poor diet, psychological difficulties, and problems of the male or female reproductive systems. Thus, an apparently healthy young couple (both under 35) who have had no success starting pregnancy after more than a year of conscious effort may be well advised to seek professional help. (If either the man or the woman is over 35, such help should be sought after 6 months.) A careful medical examination of both partners by a specialist can often discover the reason for their failure. Sometimes the diagnosis as well as the therapy are very simple indeed. For example, there have been couples who remained childless just because they never had sexual intercourse on the woman's fertile days. At other times, the problem may prove to be extremely complicated and require extensive treatment involving psychological counseling, hormone replacement, or surgery. One of the more recent and increasingly popular methods of treating infertility is artificial insemination. In some cases (approximately one in every ten couples), fertility cannot be established in spite of all available medical measures. However, these couples may still find fulfillment as parents through adoption.