Infertility can be defined as a medical condition that is characterized by the inability to conceive even after one year of trying. The process of conception involves the release of an egg from the ovary and fertilization of this egg by a sperm. You need to have open fallopian tubes through which the sperm will swim to meet the egg and fertilize it. The fertilized egg will then travel through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. A problem in any of these steps can cause infertility.
So what are the causes?
In women different types of factors can interfere with the process of getting pregnant.
Ovulation Disorders- These are disorders in which ovulation occurs infrequently or not at all. These disorders may be caused by problems in the ovary or in the regulation of the reproductive hormones in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – In this condition, several changes occur within the hypothalamus, ovaries or the pituitary glands, that result in a hormonal imbalance, affecting ovulation. It is the most common cause of female infertility.
- Hypothalamic dysfunction that is caused by any form of extreme stress. It is accompanied by irregular or missed periods.
- Premature Ovarian Insufficiency– This is mainly caused by an autoimmune response wherein the body’s defense mechanism attacks the ovarian tissues or interferes with the ovulation process as well as brings about hormonal imbalance within the body.
Tubal Infertility– Fallopian tubes are the passage through which the sperm swims to meet the egg and through which the fertilized egg moves into the uterus. Any sort of damage to the tubes blocks the movement of the egg. The causes of fallopian tube damage or blockage include:
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or any sort of sexually transmitted infections that affect the uterus.
- Surgery in the past in the abdomen or pelvis.
- Pelvic Tuberculosis which is a rare form of tuberculosis that develops in the pelvic region.
- Endometriosis– It is a medical condition in which the tissues that normally grow in the uterus, grows outside the uterus. This tissue can interfere with the fertilization process and also affect the lining on the wall of the uterus causing damage to the fertilized egg, leading to infertility.
Cervical and uterine causes– Several causes can result in infertility by interfering with the implantation process, thereby increasing the chances of miscarriage.
- Benign tumors of the uterus
- Anatomical abnormalities present from birth
- Cervical narrowing or any form of cervical damage
- Cervical mucus that is not receptive to the sperm
Sometimes, it may happen that the actual cause of infertility cannot be determined even after a thorough clinical examination. While this may be disappointing, infertility is a condition that should be treated by an expert to give you the best chance of success if that is possible.