In 2009, there were 4,247,694 babies born in the U.S. -- that's almost the same as the total population of Ireland (which estimates its population at more than 4.5 million) [sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Central Intelligence Agency]. That's quite a lot of babies, but what's hidden behind that statistic are the millions of individual pregnancy stories. Stories of surprise, stories of hope and more often than many of think, stories of heartbreak.
Infertility is an inability to conceive or to successfully carry a pregnancy to term after one year of trying (or just six months of trying if the would-be mom is 35 or older). Although 85 percent of couples who experience trouble conceiving will go on to have a healthy child or children, infertility affects an estimated 10 to 15 percent of American couples [source: Mayo Clinic].
Infertility has many causes, with reasons ranging from health conditions such as obesity or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to lifestyle choices such as substance abuse. One of the most common causes of infertility is age. It's also gender-blind: It's estimated that infertility is diagnosed due to female causes about 40 percent of the time, and about 40 percent for male-related issues. Of the remaining 20 percent of infertility diagnoses, 10 percent arise from fertility issues with both the male and female, and 10 percent are unexplainable or unknown [source: Shady Grove Fertility].
Making the decision to get pregnant can bring a heavy dose of stress into your life, and adding fertility treatments only magnifies it. Fertility treatments, just like our own natural fertility, carry risks. Let's look at some numbers. For example, women under the age of 35 have a 30 to 35 percent chance of having a baby during just one cycle of in vitro fertilization (note that this is not how many women get pregnant but rather how many women deliver live, healthy babies). That rate drops to 25 percent for women ages 35 to 37, 15 to 20 percent for women ages 38 to 40, and just 6 to 10 percent for women over the age of 40 [source: American Pregnancy Association].
There's no easy solution, and coping with infertility may feel isolating for many people. One way to break that isolation and stress is to find others who are also going through the same thing.