It can be really disappointing for women to get a negative pregnancy test consistently when they are trying to conceive. It might seem like infertility is becoming more common these days and many couples are fighting against it. When a couple is struggling with infertility, both male and female are responsible for it. But today, we are going to know about female infertility and its causes.
“Female infertility” is referred as a condition in women which makes it harder for them to conceive. This can be due to the problems related to either the egg production or abnormalities in their reproductive system which declines the possibility of fertilization. To keep it simple, a woman who is having trouble getting pregnant is known to struggle with infertility. Female fertility can have a wide range of causes. Here are some causes that are keeping women from getting pregnant:
- Ovulation disorders
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Uterine abnormalities
- Pelvic area abnormalities
- Poor egg quality
Ovulation is the process of releasing an egg from an ovary, usually once in every menstrual cycle. Several glands and their hormones work together for a menstrual cycle to take place. Most of the women who struggle with infertility are often diagnosed with ovulation disorders. Types of ovulation disorders that affect fertility in women include:
- Irregular Ovulation
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Premature Ovarian Failure
- Hypothalamic Dysfunction
- Excess Prolactin
The absence or irregular release of an egg by the ovaries is known as irregular ovulation. Hormonal changes are usually the cause of irregular ovulation. Abnormal menstrual patterns indicate the irregularity in the ovulation, that affects women’s fertility.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):
PCOS is the most common ovarian disorders that affect female fertility factor. It causes hormonal imbalance and affects ovulation. PCOS is often associated with irregular periods, unwanted body hair, acne, insulin resistance and obesity.
Premature Ovarian Failure:
Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) is also known as Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). It is an ovulation disorder in which a woman’s ovaries stop working before the age of 40. In some cases, it can develop as early as teenage years. Women with POF may have only limited or no eggs or have eggs that do not develop properly. Though it is not similar to premature menopause in which periods stop before the woman turns 40, women may experience menopause-like symptoms and fertility issues.
The pituitary gland produces two hormones, FSH and LH which are responsible for stimulating the ovulation each month. When the production of these hormones is disrupted, ovulation gets affected which can result in irregular or absence of periods. Excess physical or emotional stress, overweight, low body weight, significant weight gain or loss are some of the factors that can disrupt the production of FSH & LH.
Prolactin is another hormone produced by the pituitary gland. When this hormone is produced in excess amounts, the production of estrogen tends to decrease and may cause infertility. The improper functioning of the pituitary gland, medications for other diseases can cause excess production of prolactin.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes:
The fallopian tubes are the pathways in which the egg travels from the ovaries down into the uterus. They have an utmost importance in the process of fertilization. The egg released from the ovary gets fertilized with the sperm on its journey down the fallopian tubes. Hence, when the fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg cannot reach the uterus which prevents it from being fertilized and eventually pregnancy. Either single tubal blockage or both tubes blockage can equally affect the fertility. Blocked fallopian tubes are one of the main cause of female infertility and are also known as “Tubal infertility.”
Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the endometrial tissue that usually lines inside the uterus, grows outside the uterus. This abnormal growth of the endometrial tissue may damage the fallopian tubes and the ovaries which can obstruct the egg and the sperm from uniting. Endometriosis can also affect the fertility in less direct ways, such as causing damage to the sperm or egg. Endometriosis is considered to be one of the top three causes of female infertility.
Continue reading about “Endometriosis”
A woman’s chances of getting pregnant are often affected if she has uterine abnormalities. Women with uterine abnormalities can still struggle with fertility issues, even if they undergo infertility treatments to increase their chances of conceiving successfully.
For a healthy conception and birth to take place, the uterus must be able to accept the embryo implantation and support the growth of fetus throughout the pregnancy. But in some cases of infertility, uterine abnormalities such as uterine fibroids, poor endometrial lining, endometriosis or some birth defects can adversely affect the uterus. Even if a woman with uterine abnormalities conceives, her pregnancy might end in miscarriage. Though uterine abnormalities are often treatable, they require the attention of experts who are specialized in female fertility.
Pelvic Area Abnormalities:
Similar to uterine abnormalities, pelvic area abnormalities can be a cause of female infertility. The abnormalities in the pelvic area can be anatomical problems either with the vagina or cervix, adhesions (bands of scar tissue which can stick internal organs together) and damage to the pelvic cavity. In general, pelvic adhesions can be the result of various reasons such as any kind of pelvic or abdominal infection, endometriosis and after a surgery to the pelvic or abdominal area. Usually, pelvic adhesions develop without exhibiting any symptoms and often diagnosed after a woman begins struggling with infertility issues.
Poor Egg Quality:
Egg quality is one of the cornerstones of healthy fertility. The quality of eggs plays an important role in the process of fertilization. In order for a woman to get pregnant, her eggs must be healthy and of good quality. In most cases of infertility among women, poor egg quality might be one of the reasons. The quality and quantity of eggs produced by the ovaries decline significantly with age. Whether fertilization and implantation occurs or not depends on the quality of a woman’s egg. But, this doesn’t mean that a woman with poor egg quality can never become pregnant. With medications and treatments, the quality of the eggs can be improved. It is always better to get the investigations to determine the quality of eggs when a woman is trying to conceive.
- Female infertility: causes and treatment http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673694929416
- Female infertility in mice lacking connexin 37 https://www.nature.com/articles/385525a0
- Smoking and female infertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/13/6/1532/815813