CAUSES OF INFERTILITY IN WOMEN
More and more women are putting off pregnancy till well into their 30’s or early 40’s for career reasons; infertility is fast becoming a major heartbreaking issue for such couples.
Infertility refers to trying to get pregnant with over a year of unprotected intercourse without any success. However, it’s not always the female who can be at fault here. One-third of the time, it’s the female with a problem, and one-third, it’s the man with the problems. The remaining one-third could be due to unknown causes or due to a combination of both male and female factors.
There are a number of possible causes of female infertility; some of these include the following:
Damaged fallopian tubes
These tubes are vital for carrying eggs from the ovaries to the uterus; damage to the tubes can occur through scar tissues and adhesions from previous infections, surgeries or endometriosis. A previous ectopic pregnancy may have also damaged the fallopian tube and impede further fertilization.
Uterine polyps, fibroids and adenomyosis interfere with pregnancy as well as endometriosis, which accounts for 35-50% of infertility cases; they can lead to obstruction of the uterus or fallopian tubes. Endometriosis refers to the thickened endometrial lining of the uterus which doesn’t shed during menstruation but adheres to some other part of the body.
Polycystic ovary diseases
This is due to a hormonal imbalance that can lead to irregular painful cycles, weight gain, skin problems, hirsutism, changes in the voice, making it more masculine or small cysts in the ovaries. This condition isn’t fully understood by different women presenting with varied symptoms. It affects about 4-18% of women of reproductive age.
Some women’s bodies may, unfortunately, be allergic to their partner’s sperms or semen. This leads to an immune reaction and destruction of the sperms; hence they are destroyed before fertilizing the egg or even after embryo formation. It may also cause rashes, sores or painful intercourse.
There are numerous reasons why females do not ovulate or have irregular ovulation, with hormonal imbalance being the number one reason. The menstrual cycle works on an intricate communication system between hormones from the pituitary gland, the ovaries and the follicles; in case of any disruption, ovulation doesn’t occur and the thickened lining of the uterus waiting to receive a fertilized egg gets disintegrated.
Cervical stenosis is the narrowing of the cervix due to inherited malformations or due to some damage to the cervix; other factors that can interfere with fertility include the inability of the cervix to produce quality mucus to enable sperms to travel through the cervix.
These unknown factors account for about 20% of the infertility issues where it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact cause of infertility. Sometimes certain chronic medical conditions can interfere with getting pregnant or some congenital abnormalities like a septate uterus can lead to recurrent miscarriages or inability to conceive.