Factors in Female Infertility
Infertility is a condition that strikes one in every six couples. The diagnosis of infertility comes after a year of trying to conceive without success has passed and, in the case of women over the age of 35, six months have passed without conception success. The cause may be female infertility, male infertility, a combination of both or unexplained infertility. Female infertility factors contribute to about 50 percent of all infertility cases, and female infertility alone accounts for about one-third of all infertility cases according to the American Pregnancy Association.
The cause of female infertility may be difficult to diagnose; the good news is that there are many treatments available to address the issues. However, female infertility may not require treatment since half of all infertile couples will go on to conceive a child spontaneously within two years.
Female Infertility Factors Are Varied
The primary symptom of female infertility is the inability to conceive a pregnancy. The reason may be an abnormal menstrual cycle which is either too long (35 days or more) or too short (less than 21 days). This is called luteal phase defect and is a sign of female infertility. This may be the only indication a woman has that something is amiss.
In order for pregnancy to occur, everything relative to the human reproductive cycle has to happen just so - from the release of the egg from the ovaries to fertilization and implantation to grow. There are a number of factors that can disrupt the process at any point and it is these disruptions that cause female infertility. The most common causes of female infertility include ovulation, fallopian tube and uterine damage, or problems with the cervix.
Factors in Female Infertility - Ovulation Problems
Ovulation problems account for 25% of female infertility problems and they can be the result of faulty regulation of hormones by the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland. Or, there could be problems with the ovaries themselves. Infrequent or absent ovulation is an indication there is a problem with the ovaries. This can be caused by:
· Hormonal imbalance: Abnormal FSH and LH secretion can be triggered by excessive physical or emotional stress; extremes in body weight (too high or too low); a recent substantial weight gain or loss (10% of body weight).
· Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): The overproduction of androgens (male hormones) and insulin resistance affect ovulation.
· Luteal phase defect: LPD happens when the ovaries don't produce enough progesterone after ovulation so the uterine lining is not prepared properly for implantation.
· Premature ovarian failure: This is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack ovarian tissue. The result is loss of eggs in the ovary and decreased estrogen production.
There are other causes for ovulation problems that include:
· Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
· Alcohol or drug use
· Thyroid gland problems
Factors in Female Infertility: Damaged Fallopian Tubes
Damage to the fallopian tubes, called tubal infertility, is diagnosed when the fallopian tubes become damaged or blocked. In this case, they block the sperm from getting to the egg or they close off the passage of the fertilized egg back to the uterus. There are various causes for tubal infertility that include:
· Pelvic inflammatory disease that results from sexually transmitted diseases
· A previous ectopic pregnancy
· Abdominal or pelvic surgery
· A birth defect
· Endometriosis can cause scarring and tissue growth on the tubes
Factors in Female Infertility: Uterine Damage
Uterine damage is yet another reason for female infertility. Some uterine causes include:
· Uterine polyps, fibroids, or myomas: These can cause blockages in the fallopian tubes or can disrupt implantation in the uterus.
· Cervical stenosis - a narrowing or blockage of the cervix
· Uterine scarring can interfere with implantation
· Uterine abnormalities such as septate and bicornuate uterus
In some cases, female infertility cannot be explained, the cause is never found. It may be a possible combination of several minor issues that seem unrelated or it may just be a passing thing that eventually rectifies itself.
Risk Factors in Female Infertility
There are risk factors that do affect a woman's fertility, some of which are:
· Age: After the age of 32, the quality and quantity of a woman's eggs begins to decline. After the age of 35, miscarriage risk increases as does the potential of chromosomal abnormalities.
· Smoking: Along with the damage done to the reproductive organs, smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy.
· Weight: Too much or too little will be a hindrance to ovulation. A healthy BMI (body mass index) is a good start to conception.
· Sexual history: STDs cause damage to the reproductive organs and cause difficulties conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term; not to mention possible infection for the baby.
· Alcohol: Ovulation disorders and endometriosis are linked to alcohol consumption. Again, damage to the unborn baby is a high risk.
· Caffeine: Studies show a decrease in fertility if a woman consumes more than 900ml per day of caffeine.
Our site is dedicated to educating you and giving you information that will help you on your journey to pregnancy. Understanding female infertility, what it is and what causes it, is the first step in finding the answers you need.