One of the best ways to cope with infertility is to empower yourself with a solid foundation of understanding. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving in to cover the basics of why and how to cope when your pregnancy test keeps coming back negative.

To kick us off, let’s take a look at the state of infertility today in the U.S.

One in 8 couples has trouble getting pregnant.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive on your own after one year of trying. It’s a medical condition recognized by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the World Health Organization and roughly 6% of married women aged 15 to 44 years experience it.

Through educating the general population on common causes and proactive family planning, like egg freezing, the infertility rate in the U.S. has been on the decline in the past few years.

There’s no single reason why.

Taking a look at what a woman needs (the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and hormones) to get pregnant, it becomes clear that the inability to get pregnant can happen for many reasons. And women are just half the equation! Men can also run into trouble conceiving due to sperm concentration, motility, and morphology.

About a third of the time, infertility can be traced back to the women. In another third, it can be traced back to the man and the rest of the time, it’s a combination of both. In future blog posts, we’ll review the most common causes of infertility in greater depth.

The options can be overwhelming, and the journey all-consuming.

While infertility rates are on the decline, the business of Assisted Reproductive Treatments is growing. Treatments range from hormonal (if infertility is due to an imbalance) to surgical (for example, unblocking a fallopian tube). When initial treatments don’t work, the common next step is in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF has laid the groundwork for embryo donation.

Treating infertility can be incredibly expensive, and even completely inaccessible for some families. All the while, infertility itself is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. In fact, research has shown that stress levels of women experiencing infertility are equivalent to those with cancer, heart disease, or AIDS.

If you’re looking for more information about infertility, check out RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.