Among points made by fertility specialist Dr. Sherman Siber:
A woman is born with about 400,000 eggs within her ovaries and will produce no more.
A man produces millions of sperm each day in a complex assembly-line process. The millions of sperm which emerge at the end of this process were actually formed three months earlier. Sperm count can vary enormously over time in the same man.
The egg, after release from the ovary, can be fertilized for only 6 to 8 hours. The sperm can fertilize the egg for a 48-hour period. If sexual relations occur less than once a week, a couple may be missing, month after month, this two-day fertile period.
About 70 percent of women who do not ovulate can be induced to ovulate on the drug Clomid. About 40 percent become pregnant within three months. Pergonal -- the fertility drug often behind the multiple-birth headlines -- is an even stronger drug and must be closely monitored to prevent dangerous side effects.
In 40 percent of cases, the man's sperm count is a factor in the couple's infertility. Sperm counts range from 5 million to 120 million per cc. (Twenty years ago a count of 60 million per cc, was considered the lower limit of normal; today, 40 percent of American men have counts lower than 60 million.)
If the husband's sperm count is under 10 million per cc, a 33 percent chance of pregnancy is possible, simply by maximizing the wife's fertility.
Most men with low sperm counts have no obviously treatable cause, such as varicocele (varicose vein in the testicle), previous vasectomy or obstruction. Attempts to raise sperm counts with hormonal treatment have been disappointing. Such treatment must be considered in a sense experimental.
The effect of stress on sperm production is unclear. In some women, however, stress can be a factor in infertility. Temperature charts showing hormonal change will clearly reveal the absence of ovulation that can occur from anxiety or other causes.