Infertility is defined as trying to get pregnant (with frequent intercourse) for at least a year
with no success. Female infertility causes can be difficult to diagnose. There are many available treatments, which will depend on
the cause of infertility. Many infertile couples will go on to conceive a child without treatment.
The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant.
Means you ovulate infrequently or not at all, account for infertility in about 1 in 4 infertile couples. Problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones by the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, or problems in the ovary, can cause ovulation disorders.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes a hormone imbalance, which affects ovulation. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance and obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, and acne. It’s the most common cause of female infertility.
- Hypothalamic dysfunction.
Two hormones produced by the pituitary
gland are responsible for stimulating
ovulation each month – follicle-stimulating
hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone
(LH). Excess physical or emotional stress, a
very high or very low body weight, or a recent substantial weight gain or loss can disrupt production of these hormones and affect ovulation. Irregular or absent periods are the most common signs.
- PREMATURE OVARIAN FAILURE. Also called primary ovarian insufficiency, this disorder is usually caused by an autoimmune response or by premature loss of eggs from your ovary (possibly from genetics or chemotherapy). The ovary no longer produces eggs, and it lowers estrogen production in women under the age of 40.
- EXCESS PROLACTIN
The pituitary gland may cause excess production of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), which reduces estrogen production and may
cause infertility. Usually related to a pituitary
gland problem, this can also be caused by
medications you’ re taking for another disease.
DAMAGE TO FALLOPIAN TUBES (TUBAL INFERTILITY):
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes keep sperm from getting to the egg or block the passage of the fertilized egg into the uterus. Causes of fallopian tube damage or blockage can include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection
of the uterus and fallopian tubes due to chlamydia, gonorrhea or other sexually transmitted infections.
- Previous surgery in the abdomen or pelvis,
including surgery for ectopic pregnancy, in
which a fertilized egg implants and develops
in a fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
- Pelvic tuberculosis, a major cause of tubal
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that
normally grows in the uterus implants and
grows in other locations. This extra tissue
growth- and the surgical removal of it-
can cause scarring, which may block fallopian tubes and keep an egg and sperm from uniting. Endometriosis can also affect the lining of
the uterus, disrupting implantation of the fertilized egg. The condition also seems to affect fertility in less direct ways, such as damage to the sperm or egg.
UTERINE OR CERVICAL CAUSES
Several uterine or cervical causes can impact fertility by interfering with implantation or increasing the likelihood of a miscarriage: Benignpolyps or tumors (fibroids or myomas) are common in the uterus. Some can block fallopian tubes or interfere with implantation, affecting fertility. However, many women who have fibroids or polyps do become pregnant. Endometriosis scarring or inflammation within the uterus can disrupt implantation. Uterine abnormalities present from birth, such as an abnormally shaped uterus, can cause problems becoming or remaining pregnant. Cervical stenosis, a narrowing of the cervix can be caused by an inherited malformation or damage to the cervix. Sometimes the cervix cant produce the best type of mucus to allow the sperm to travel through the cervix into the uterus.
Sometimes, the cause of infertility is never
found. A combination of several minor factors in both partners could cause unexplained fertility problems. Although it’s frustrating to get no specific answer, this problem may correct itself with time. But, you shouldn’t delay treatment for infertility.
RISK FACTORS OF FEMALE INFERTILITY
Certain factors may put you at higher risk of
- Age. The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs begin to decline with increasing age. In the mid-30s, the rate of follicle loss speeds, resulting in fewer and poorer quality eggs. This makes conception more difficult, and increases the risk of miscarriage.
- Smoking. Besides damaging your cervix
and fallopian tubes, smoking increases your
risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
It’s also thought to age your ovaries and
deplete your eggs prematurely. Stop smoking
before beginning fertility treatment.
- Weight. Being overweight or significantly
underweight may affect normal ovulation.
Getting to a healthy body mass index (BMI)
may increase the frequency of ovulation and
likelihood of pregnancy.
- Sexual history. Sexually transmitted
infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
can damage the fallopian tubes. Having
unprotected intercourse with multiple
partners increases your risk of a sexually
transmitted infection that may cause fertility
- Alcohol. Stick to moderate alcohol consumption of no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
For women thinking about getting pregnant
soon or in the future, these tips may help
- Maintain a normal weight: Overweight and underweight women are at increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you need to lose weight, exercise moderately. Strenuous, intense exercise of more than five hours a week has been associated with decreased ovulation.
- Quit smoking: Tobacco has multiple
negative effects on fertility, not to mention
your general health and the health of a fetus.
If you smoke and are considering pregnancy, quit now.
- Avoid alcohol: Heavy alcohol use may lead
to decreased fertility. And any alcohol use
can affect the health of a developing fetus. If
you’re planning to become pregnant, avoid
alcohol, and don’t drink alcohol while you’re pregnant.
- Reduce stress: Some studies have shown that couples experiencing psychological stress had poorer results with infertility treatment. If you can, find a way to reduce stress in your life before trying to become pregnant.
- Limit caffeine: Research suggests that limiting caffeine intake to less than 200
milligrams a day shouldn’t affect your ability to get pregnant. That’s about one to two cups of 6 to 8 ounces of coffee per day.