Causes of Infertility in Women
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Causes of infertility in women can vary, and in some cases a cause
cannot be identified (known as unexplained infertility). Most common causes are explained in this
Damage to fallopian tubes (tubal
An egg released by the
ovary during ovulation moves to the fallopian tube and remains there alive for about 24 hours. Fertilization
happens when a single sperm meets the egg in the fallopian tube. The fertilised egg then slowly moves down the
fallopian tubes and gets implanted to the lining of the uterus.
Blocked or damaged fallopian tube would prevent sperm
from reaching an egg or it would block movement of fertilized egg to uterus, resulting in infertility. Main
factors that can cause blocks or damages in fallopian tubes are: endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy (a condition in which a fertilized egg gets implanted to
fallopian tube instead of uterus and starts growing there) and surgery in abdomen or pelvis.
Cervical blockage and cervical mucus
Cervix connects uterus to vagina. Cervical blockage, also referred to
as cervical stenosis, is a condition in which cervical canal is partially or fully blocked. This could result in
defective mucus production in cervix harmfully affecting sperm mobility. In worst cases, the blockage would even
prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
Scarring in the uterus and presence of fibroids (benign non
cancerous tumors) in or around uterus can block fallopian tubes or disrupt implantation of fertilized egg to uterus lining. Some women are born with uterine abnormalities that cause them problems in getting pregnant or
Ovulatory disorders are one of the most common causes of infertility
in women. Two main types of ovulatory disorders are: Polycystic Ovarian
Syndrome (PCOS) and Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) also known as
Primary Ovarian Failure.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in
which a woman's sex hormones are out of balance. Ovaries in women produce a small amount of male sex hormone called
androgen. PCOS occurs when ovaries produce higher levels of androgen causing a hormonal imbalance, interfering with
the ability of ovary to produce mature eggs. Researchers think that family genetics and insulin resistance (insulin is a hormone which helps the body to convert sugar, starch and
other forms of food to energy) are the main reasons of PCOS. Small ovarian cysts are formed in ovaries
of those suffering from PCOS and hence the name.
Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) is a condition
in which ovaries stop producing eggs before a woman turns 40. POI is accompanied by high levels of Follicle
Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is a hormone produced
by the pituitary gland. A high level of FSH is an indication of poor egg quality and it is a signal that a woman's
egg supply is diminishing (also known as low ovarian reserve). POI and high FSH levels can be results of: aging
(FSH levels start to rise naturally about 10 years before a woman enters menopause), hereditary factors, pituitary
gland disorders, exposure to radiation or chemotherapy, Turner syndrome also known as fragile X chromosome,
Graves disease, conditions affecting endocrine system
such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), autoimmune
disorders or genetic conditions such as Galactosemia.
Low progesterone levels can cause
infertility in women. Progesterone plays a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle and preparing the uterus
for conception and pregnancy. Low progesterone level prevents implantation of
fertilized egg to uterus lining or survival of the embryo, resulting in miscarriage.
Endometriosis occurs when tissues (made of endometrial cells) that normally grows
inside the uterus start growing outside the uterus in locations such as ovaries, fallopian tubes and lining of the
pelvic cavity. These malformed tissue implants break down and shed during menstruation resulting in bleeding. Since
these tissues are outside uterus, blood cannot flow out of the body through vagina (as it happens in the case of
menstrual blood). This could result in scarring and cyst formation, thereby making it difficult for ovary to release an
egg or for a fertilized egg to get implanted into the womb.
Exact causes of endometriosis are unknown. Theories about causes of endometriosis
can be found here.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) infects a woman's reproductive
organs such as fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries or cervix. PID usually occurs as a complication of
sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. PID can lead to inflammation, scarring and
blockage of fallopian tubes, causing infertility.
Poor egg quality
Poor egg quality can prevent successful fertilization from happening.
Egg quality declines with age. Other factors that can lead to poor egg quality are: smoking, exposure to radiations
or chemotherapy, health problems and genetics.
Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can harmfully
affect ability of women to conceive. NSAIDS can fail ovarian follicles from bursting and releasing eggs.
Click list of NSAIDS for more information.
Other causes of infertility in
Other factors that can cause infertility in women are: aging,
infections of thyroid gland, autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy, use of anti psychotic medicines and illegal drugs
such as marijuana or cocaine, being overweight or underweight, overly intense exercise, stress, excessive
drinking, smoking, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), occupational and environmental factors such as exposure to
harmful substances or temperature.
click symptoms of infertility in
women, infertility test
for women, infertility treatment for women for more information on these
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