Infertility refers to inability of a couple to conceive and have offspring after 12 months of unprotected sex. Infertility is on the rise in many countries. The increasing age of conception versus the decrease in the probability of conception with age makes it a critical issue. Some of the infertility problems may be due to several health problems. So what causes infertility in women? We’ll review few causes of infertility in women here.
A decline balance of sex hormone (estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FHS) is needed for timely growth and release of the eggs from the ovary (ovulation). Hormone imbalance can cause ovulation disorder in women and are the leading causes of infertility in women.
Fallopian tube damage:
The fallopian tube is where fertilization takes place, after egg is released from the ovary into the tube and is met by sperm. Full or a partial blockage of the fallopian tube may prevent fertilization. Damage to the fallopian tubes can be caused by a host or factors including inflammation as result of viral or bacterial infections, some types of sexually transmitted diseases, or complications of surgery such as adhesion or scarring.
Uterus and Cervical disorder:
Benign growth on the uterine wall, such as fibroids or polyps can contribute to infertility as they interfere with the attachment of the embryo to the wall of the uterus.
Abnormalities in the shape of the cervix (lowest part of the uterus) or changes in the texture of the cervical mucus can make it difficult for sperm to move from the vagina into the uterus.
Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus forms at inappropriate places within and outside of the reproductive tract. It can block the fallopian tubes and/or disrupt ovulation. It occurs in about 10% of women.
The presence of antibodies to sperm in cervical mucus can cause infertility. In other cases, the mother’s immune system prevents the embryo from attaching to the wall of the uterus and so causes a miscarriage.
Polycystic ovaries contain lots of small cysts, making the ovary larger than normal. The condition, known as polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), is also associated with high levels of androgen and estrogen. Women with PCOD have irregular periods and may not ovulate resulting in infertility.
Ovarian failure can be a consequence of medical treatments such as surgical removal of ovarian tumors or the complete failure of ovaries to develop or contain eggs as in the case of Turner Syndrome. The treatment of ovarian tumors may involve surgical removal of all or part of the ovary. Ovarian failure can also occur as a result of treatment such chemotherapy and pelvic radiotherapy for cancers in other body areas. These therapies destroy eggs in the ovary.
Reproductive function declines as women ages, particularly after the age of 35. Women are born with a finite number of eggs, unlike men who produces sperms most of their adult life. With the years approaching menopause, there are fewer and fewer eggs left in the ovary. The quality of eggs also diminishes, as women gets older.
Aging can also affect other reproductive organs and function, such as uterus, hormone production and ovulation. There is also higher incidence of miscarriage in women in their late 30′s.