Almost 50 per cent of all infertility cases are caused due to problems in women mostly issues related to ovulation, damaged fallopian tubes, uterus or cervix. Age too can contribute to infertility. Other reasons include hormone imbalance, tumour or cyst, eating disorders, stress, physical trauma and ovulation disorders
Infrequent ovulation accounts for infertility in one among four infertile couples. Problems with the regulation of reproductive hormones by hypothalamus or pituitary gland or problems in ovary can cause ovulation disorders.
PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormone imbalance that affects ovulation. It is a condition in which a woman’s ovaries and, in some cases, adrenal glands produce more androgens than normal. High levels of these hormones interfere with the development of ovarian follicles and release of eggs during ovulation. As a result, fluid-filled sacs, or cysts, can develop within the ovaries. Associated with insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body and acne, PCOS. It’s the most common cause of female infertility.
Hypothalamic dysfunction happens when the production of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone produced by pituitary gland responsible for stimulating ovulation each month is affected. Stress, abnormal body weight, or recent weight gain or loss can disrupt production of these hormones. Premature ovarian failure or insufficiency is caused by an autoimmune response or by premature loss of eggs from your ovary. As the ovary no longer produces eggs, oestrogen production is less among women under the age of 40. Too much prolactin produced in pituitary gland reduces oestrogen production and causes infertility. Usually related to a pituitary gland problem, this can also be caused by medications taken for another disease.
Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes keep sperm from reaching the egg or block the passage of fertilized egg into the uterus. The damage or blockage can be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (infection of uterus and fallopian tubes due to chlamydia, gonorrhoea or other sexually transmitted diseases), previous surgery in the abdomen or pelvis or pelvic tuberculosis.
Endometriosis when the cells that normally line the uterine cavity, called the endometrium, are found outside the uterus instead. This extra tissue growth and its surgical removal can cause scarring, which may block fallopian tubes and keep an egg and sperm from uniting. Endometriosis can also affect the lining of the uterus, disrupting implantation of the fertilized egg.
Uterine or cervical causes
The uterine or cervical causes that impact fertility include benign polyps (fibroids or myomas), endometriosis, uterine abnormalities, cervical stenosis (narrowing of the cervix), etc.
Other factors causing infertility:
- Age: The quality and quantity of eggs declines with age. The rate of follicle loss speeds, resulting in fewer and poorer quality eggs, making conception more difficult, increasing the risk of miscarriage.
- Smoking: Apart from damaging the cervix and fallopian tubes, smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. It also ages the ovaries and depletes the eggs prematurely.
- Weight: Being overweight or underweight can affect normal ovulation. Getting to a healthy body mass index (BMI) may increase the frequency of ovulation and likelihood of pregnancy.
- Sexual history: Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can damage the fallopian tubes. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases that may cause fertility problems later.
- Alcohol: Alcoholism affects fertility. Moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day) is the wisest way of life.
Female infertility treated using these methods:
- Hormone intake to address hormonal imbalance, endometriosis or a short menstrual cycle
- Medications to stimulate ovulation
- Supplements to enhance fertility
- Antibiotics to cure infection
- Minor surgery to remove blockage or scar tissues from fallopian tubes, uterus or pelvic area.