Extend Fertility is the very first service in the country dedicated exclusively to women choosing to proactively freeze their eggs. We were inspired by the belief that women interested in fertility options for the future deserve the same level of service, emotional support, and physician excellence as women trying for a baby now.
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. Physicians define infertility as the inability to get pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected sex. Being diagnosed as infertile doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant ever. It just means something is preventing your body from getting pregnant on its own, and you may need to learn more about your cycle (such as when you’re ovulating) or get help from a fertility doctor, known as a reproductive endocrinologist, to understand and overcome the problem.
It’s probably more common than you think—experts estimate that 1 in 8 women (or 12.5%) experience infertility. However, it’s important to note that infertility rates increase with a woman’s age, with the steepest drop-off of fertility happening after age 35—which is why you’ll see that age thrown around a lot in conversations about fertility. According to the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one-third of women over age 35 experience infertility. That’s why, for women over 35, experts recommend seeing a doctor if they’re not pregnant after just 6 months of regular, unprotected sex. Even a half-year can make a difference.
For women, the most common cause of infertility is age. We’ve talked about this before, but let’s do a quick overview: women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, and as they age, both the quantity and the quality of those eggs declines. Egg quality refers to the number of eggs that are genetically “normal,” or free from chromosomal defects that could cause infertility, miscarriage, or congenital disorders. Both the decline in quantity, known as “diminished ovarian reserve,” and the decline in quality can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby.
Absolutely not, although for centuries women have taken the brunt of the blame for fertility problems. (Typical!) According to ASRM, infertility affects men and women equally; potential causes for male factor infertility include varicocele, or a swelling of veins in the testicles; hormone imbalances; or problems with erection, ejaculation, or the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. Like the female reproductive system, the male reproductive system has lots of moving parts, and they all have to work correctly for a pregnancy to happen.
Good question! You’re right—while the “bread and butter” of many practices is assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF), at Extend Fertility we focus on helping women preserve their fertility before it’s a problem. But this conversation is a really important one, even for us, because many women don’t fully understand their own fertility—and therefore aren’t equipped to make the best possible decisions for themselves and their bodies. Just one example: many women think that they’ll be fertile and able to get pregnant until menopause, which we know isn’t true; for most women, fertility starts to decline pretty rapidly over a decade before menopause hits.