The Most Common Causes of Female Infertility
Infertility is complex and may have many causes. A fertility evaluation can help pinpoint the causes of infertility so that the most appropriate fertility treatments can be provided.
At Houston Fertility Center, Dr. Sonja B. Kristiansen uses a variety of diagnostic tests, including blood tests, ultrasounds, and x-rays to identify the cause female infertility.
Here, we'll take a closer look at some of the most common causes of female infertility. If you live in or around Houston, TX and would like more information about female infertility, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Kristiansen.
Problems with Ovulation
One of the most common causes of female infertility are problems with ovulation. There are many possible reasons ovulation may not occur properly. Before we discuss these problems, it's important to understand ovulation and the role it plays in conception.
Ovulation refers to the release of a mature egg from one of the ovaries and is essential to becoming pregnant. Once an egg is released, it moves down the fallopian tube where it may be fertilized by sperm. If fertilized, the egg will travel to the uterus and attach to the uterine walls where the egg will develop into a fetus.
For most women with a typical 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs around the 14th day. However, some women may have problems with ovulation and either ovulate irregularly or not at all. Some possible causes of ovulation problems include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormonal disorder that causes cysts to develop on the ovaries and potentially interfere with ovulation
- Hormone imbalance
- A tumor
- Thyroid problems
- Excess weight or being underweight
Damaged Fallopian Tubes
Another common cause of female infertility includes issues with the fallopian tubes.
The fallopian tubes play a major role in ovulation and fertility. In healthy fallopian tubes, sperm can freely travel to the egg and the egg can freely travel to the uterus. Unfortunately, some women may have damaged fallopian tubes that make it difficult or impossible for sperm to reach the egg or for a fertilized egg to reach the uterus.
Some causes of fallopian tube damage include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes caused by sexually transmitted infections
- Pelvic or abdominal surgery
- A previous ectopic pregnancy
- Birth defect
Damage to the Uterus
Damage to the uterus is another common cause of female infertility.
In a healthy functioning uterus, the lining of the uterus will thicken throughout the menstrual cycle. If a fertilized egg reaches the uterus, it may attach to the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized, the uterine lining will shed.
Some causes of uterine damage include:
- Endometriosis, which is a condition in which the tissue that usually grows within the uterus grows in other areas, often causing scarring or blockage of the fallopian tubes
- Fibroid tumors
- Benign polyps
- Congenital uterine abnormalities
Age is a common cause of infertility in women over 30. As women age, the number of eggs she releases, as well as the quality of eggs, begins to decrease.
Fertility typically begins to decrease by the mid-30s. Most women over the age of 35 will produce fewer eggs and eggs of poorer quality, making it more difficult to become pregnant.
Fertility drops rapidly again after the age of 37. Not only can it be harder to become pregnant as women age, miscarriages are more likely, and pregnancy can be difficult.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have been struggling to become pregnant, treatment from Dr. Kristiansen can help. Please call the Houston Fertility Center at (713) 862-6181 to schedule a consultation.