9 Causes Of Female Infertility (And Your Treatment Options)
Helping people realize their dreams and start families has always been our goal at The Fertility Institute. We use a variety of fertility treatment options to address various causes of infertility, whether due to female infertility causes, male infertility causes, or a combination of both. These are the most common causes of female infertility, along with treatments that can help.
How common is female infertility?
If you're struggling with infertility, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that about 13% of U.S. women between the ages of 15-49 have issues conceiving. Female infertility makes up approximately half of the cases of infertility seen at fertility clinics.
According to studies that analyze the patients at fertility clinics and their causes of infertility:
- A third of infertility issues stem from female infertility causes
- A third from male infertility
- The final third is a combination of male infertility and female infertility
What causes female infertility?
Causes of female infertility range from complex health conditions to lifestyles that can impact your body's ability to ovulate to structural damage in the reproductive system itself.
In addition, many causes of female infertility are often interconnected. Hormonal imbalances and irregular menstruation, for example, are both common complications of polycystic ovary syndrome. This can be a good thing in some cases as your fertility team can diagnose the underlying cause of your challenges and develop a unique treatment plan.
Finally, the following list of causes of female infertility is undoubtedly incomplete. While these are the most common causes, each body is different. There are many reasons (and sometimes even unexplained reasons) for infertility challenges. Your best choice is to always work with a trusted fertility team towards a diagnosis.
1. Menstrual issues
There are numerous issues that affect a woman’s menstruation and ovulation cycles.
These can range from failure to ovulate, due to age, to an irregular and unpredictable menstrual cycle, due to lifestyle or environmental causes. A problem at any point in this cycle can lead to infertility challenges over time.
2. Hormonal imbalances
Conception is a complex process, relying on a variety of hormones to encourage ovulation and implantation. Too much or too little of these hormones can result in fertility challenges.
3. Structural challenges
Structural issues that affect conception, implantation, or carrying a fetus to term can result in infertility.
These can be due to genetic structural issues (like an abnormally shaped uterus) or result from untreated infections or scarring. Issues in the uterus, cervix (and cervical mucus), ovaries, and fallopian tubes can all impact fertility.
4. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS refers to a condition in which the follicles in the ovaries do not mature and release eggs. The condition also involves hormone imbalances and irregular ovulation.
You can learn more about PCOS in our guide on this condition.
5. Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
In this autoimmune disorder, the body attacks its own ovarian tissues. This can also be the result of the premature loss of eggs due to different kinds of genetic and environmental causes.
6. Issues with the fallopian tubes
If your fallopian tubes are injured or blocked in some way, conception can be very difficult and, in some cases, impossible. They can block the sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg as well as block the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus.
Fallopian tube problems can result from a variety of issues, such as:
- Previous injury
- Pelvic surgeries
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Inflammatory diseases
You can learn more about fallopian tubal dyfunctions in the following video.
7. Uterine fibroids
Issues with the uterus can lead to problems with conception as well as an increased risk of a miscarriage. One of the more common causes of female infertility are uterine fibroids.
These are benign (non-cancerous) growths within your uterus. They can impact conception by distorting the cervix or uterus, blocking fallopian types, or impacting your uterine lining. You can learn more about this topic in our earlier post.
Another serious uterine issue that a person may face is endometriosis. With endometriosis, tissue that normally grows inside of the uterus begins to grow on the outside of a woman’s uterus and possibly other parts of her reproductive system.
This leads to severe pain and discomfort. It can also lead to the development of cysts and scar tissue that impacts the structures of the reproductive system. Learn more about endometriosis and fertility here.
9. Other causes
Finally, female infertility can also be the result of injury, accidents, the aging process, or even unexplained factors. Usually the unexplained factors are combinations of multiple issues that cause female infertility.
Treatments for female infertility
There are numerous treatment options that can address female infertility. Sometimes, this will involve drug or hormone therapy to regulate your ovulation patterns. Others may benefit from surgical procedures to treat certain health issues, like uterine fibroids.
For those who still have trouble conceiving, in vitro fertiliization (IVF) can be an extremely effective option. IVF may be used in combination with other fertility services, such as hormone therapy, egg donation, or a surrogate carrier. The latter is an especially important option if a woman runs the risk of a miscarriage by carrying a child to term.
You can discuss all of these treatments in greater detail with your fertility specialist. They'll be able to diagnose the cause of your challenges and suggest targeted treatments.
If you're in Louisiana or one of our neighboring states, we encourage you to reach out to The Fertility Institute for help. Our team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you learn about your treatment options for starting the family of your dreams.
Originally posted on June 11, 2014.