Infertility

Infertility is a common issue that affects about 1 in 6 people of reproductive age. Defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse, it affects both men and women equally. Various medical, genetic, and lifestyle factors can contribute to this condition. 

If you and your husband have been trying to conceive for more than a year without success—or six months if you’re over 35—it’s important to seek medical advice. Sometimes, infertility can be linked to underlying health conditions that might be treatable. 

The diagnostic process typically involves physical examinations and medical tests. For women, this may include blood tests to check for ovulation and an ultrasound scan of the reproductive organs. For men, a semen analysis is usually conducted to evaluate sperm count and quality. 

From an Islamic perspective, infertility is viewed with compassion and understanding. Children are a blessing from Allah, and if a couple is unable to conceive, it is seen as part of Allah’s divine plan. Spouses are encouraged to seek medical treatment and pray for Allah’s guidance, while maintaining faith and patience.

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.”

Al-Baqarah 2:155

Common Factors Affecting Fertility: 

  • Medical Causes: Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and low sperm count are common medical issues that can lead to infertility.
  • Genetic Factors: Sometimes, infertility can be related to genetic anomalies or inherited conditions.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol use, and obesity can also contribute to infertility.
  • Age: Fertility naturally declines with age, particularly after 35 for women and 40 for men.
  • Sexual History: Previous sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect fertility.
  • Long-Term Health Conditions: Diseases such as diabetes can have an impact on fertility.
  • Frequency of Intercourse: Frequent and regular intercourse around the time of ovulation can increase the chances of pregnancy.

Treatments for infertility vary based on the cause and can range from lifestyle changes and medication to assistive reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). It’s crucial to stay informed and proactive about your reproductive health.

Unfortunately, the quality of family planning services can vary. Some women face challenges such as healthcare providers’ misinformation, lack of skills, and disrespectful treatment, which can hinder effective counselling and erode trust. Educating yourself about reproductive health can empower you to navigate these challenges and advocate for the care you deserve.

Infertility Treatment Options

There are several medical treatments available for infertility, each with different techniques and success rates. Some of the most common treatment options include:

  • Medication: Certain medications can stimulate ovulation and regulate hormones.
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): This involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Eggs are retrieved from the ovary and fertilized with sperm in a lab before being implanted in the uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A single sperm is injected directly into an egg, used in conjunction with IVF.
  • Surgery: In some instances, surgery may be required to correct anatomical issues.

According to shariah, the use of IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies such as ICSI is permissible under certain conditions. The key requirement is that the procedures are necessary and should involve the husband’s sperm and the wife’s egg, and the resulting embryo should be implanted in the wife’s uterus. This ensures that the child is biologically connected to both parents and maintains family lineage and inheritance rights.

Specifically, the conditions for the permissibility of IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies in Islam include: 

  1. The sperm must come from the husband, and the ovum must come from the wife.
  2. The fertilized ovum must be implanted in the wife’s uterus.
  3. No third party, such as a sperm donor, egg donor, or surrogate mother, should be involved in any part of the process. This includes scenarios where the sperm of the husband might be used with the womb or egg of another woman, even if she is also his wife.
  4. All procedures should be conducted within the bounds of Islamic ethical guidelines, ensuring no form of prohibited exposure or contact occurs (i.e. the revealing of your awrah).

Understanding and adhering to these guidelines ensures adherence to Islamic principles while seeking medical help for infertility.

Dua When Dealing with Infertility 

When facing infertility, it can be deeply comforting to remember the inspirational stories of Prophets who also experienced similar trials. For instance, the story of Prophet Zakariya (RA) teaches us about patience and trust in Allah’s plan. Despite his old age and his wife’s initial barrenness, he continued to pray for a child and was eventually blessed with Prophet Yahya (RA). Similarly, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his wife, Sarah, faced infertility for many years before being granted a child.

These stories remind us that with persistent faith and supplication, Allah’s mercy and provision can manifest in the most unexpected ways. Remember to keep your intentions sincere and your faith strong, as Allah is the best planner and provider.

Dua 1:

وَزَكَرِيَّآ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُۥ رَبِّ لَا تَذَرْنِى فَرْدًۭا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلْوَٰرِثِينَ

“Rabbi laa tadharni fardanw-wa-anta khairul-waaritheen” 

And ˹remember˺ when Zachariah cried out to his Lord, “My Lord! Do not leave me childless, though You are the Best of Successors.” 

Al-Anbiya 21:89

Dua 2:

هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُۥ ۖ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِى مِن لَّدُنكَ ذُرِّيَّةًۭ طَيِّبَةً ۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ ٱلدُّعَآءِ 

“Rabbi hab li min ladunka thurriyyatan tayyibatan innaka samee’ud du’aa” 
Then and there Zachariah prayed to his Lord, saying,  “My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.” 

Ali’Imran 3:38

These duas can be recited regularly, and many find comfort in their repeated supplication, trusting that their prayers will be answered in the best way possible by Allah (SWT).

Duʿāʾ al-Istikhāra

Duʿāʾ al-Istikhāra

English Transliteration:

Allāhumma innī astakhīruka biʿilmika wa astaqdiruka biqudratika, wa asʾaluka min faḍlika (a)l-ʿaẓīm fainnaka taqdiru walā aqdiru wa taʿlamu wala aʿlamu wa anta ʿallāmu (a)l-ghuyūb. Allāhumma, in kunta taʿlamu anna hadha (a)l-amra [mention decision here] khayrun lī fī dīnī wa maʿāshī waʿāqibati amrī faqdurhu lī wa ya (a)s-sirhu lī thumma barik lī fīhi. Wa in kunta taʿlamu anna hadha (a)l-amra sharrun lī fī dīnī wa maʿāshī wa ʿāqibati amri faṣrifhu ʿannī wa (a)ṣrifni ʿanhu waqdir lī(ya) (a)l-khayra haythu kāna thumma arḍīnī bihi.

English Translation:

Dear God, I’m asking You for goodness through Your [Infinite] Knowledge, and I’m asking You for strength through Your Divine Ability, and I’m asking You from Your Infinite Grace. Because You’re completely able to do, while I simply cannot. You know everything, and I do not, and You know everything that’s unseen. Dear God, if You know that this decision [mention decision here] is good for me in terms of my religiosity, my worldly life, and afterlife, then decree it, facilitate it for me with ease, and bless me through it. But if You know that this has bad consequences on my religiosity, my worldly life, and afterlife, then get it away from me and get me away from it, and [instead of that] decree what’s better for me, whatever it may be, and make me content with it.

How

1) Make Intention for Istikhāra
2) Pray two rakaʿāt of voluntary prayer (any prayer outside the five obligatory ones) and recite any Surahs you’d like after Fatiha in each rakah as there are no Surahs specifed by The Prophet ﷺ.
3) Recite the duʿāʾ (prayer) of istikhāra in Arabic as recommended to us by the Prophet ﷺ once you say your salām for the prayer – and then explicitly state your need in any language you’d like.

If you don’t have it memorised, read it off a paper or your phone. If you can’t read Arabic, read the transliteration. No extra duʿāʾ afterwards is required.

Outcome

You will NOT necessarily see a dream/vision/sign/etc. Allāh ﷻ will place a bit of inclination in your heart towards going through with the action or not. You can also ask Allah for further guidance, blessing and firmness in the decision that you have already made through this duā.

If the decision affects more than one person, everyone involved should pray their own istikhāra.

Conclusion

Istikhāra is a natural process. Don’t expect anything otherworldly. All istikhāra ensures is that you have the blessings of Allāh backing your choice. There is no istikhāra for Ḥarām actions (I.e. Should I drink this alcohol?) or obligatory actions (i.e.  Should I pray ʿĪshāʾ today?). Do not regret your decision afterwards as doing so would be to regret and doubt in Allāh’s guidance. Even if your decision “doesn’t work out” how you envisioned, know that it was better for you and that there are blessings in it even if you can’t see them yet.

This was shared in some part from ISTIKHĀRA: HOW & WHY.