Infertility is associated with couples who have been unsuccessful at becoming pregnant with frequent intercourse for at least a year. Both males and females can contribute to infertility. In fact, 1/3 of infertility is associated with men, 1/3 of infertility is associated with women, and the other 1/3 is either unknown or a combination of male and female factors. The cause of female infertility can be extremely difficult to diagnose. Because of the difficulty of diagnosis, and because treatment plans are based upon the underlying problem, it often takes a good deal of time for fertility treatments to be successful.
In women who are having a difficult time becoming pregnant, one of these causes is often the cause:
An ovulation disorder. Some women simply do not ovulate on a regular schedule. Women may ovulate infrequently or not at all, and this contributes to about 25% of infertile couples. Ovulation disorders can be caused by unbalanced hormones or by the ovary itself.
Fallopian tube damage. If the fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked, this keeps sperm from getting to the egg or it blocks the passage of the fertilized egg into the uterus.
Endometriosis. This extra tissue growth that normally grows inside the uterus, begins to spread to other locations. Endometriosis can disrupt the implantation of a fertilized egg within the uterus if the tissue growth is excessive. Extra growth outside of the uterus can obstruct the tube and keep the egg and sperm from uniting within the fallopian tube.
Uterine or cervical cancer. Many types of cancers within the female reproductive system can negatively affect fertility and can also contribute to the likelihood of a miscarriage.
Unexplained fertility. For many women, this is the hardest cause to accept. In some cases, a cause for infertility is never found. It could be a combination of several minor factors —in both men and women.
If you are having a difficult time conceiving, make sure that you are taking care of yourself first. Women who smoke, who are obese or significantly underweight, who have certain sexually transmitted diseases, and who drink alcohol heavily have all been linked to infertility. If these are not contributing factors to your infertility, talk with your OBGYN for possible causes and treatment plans.
Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates
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