What is female infertility?
Infertility is the inability to get pregnant or bear a child after attempting it for over a year. According to research, the cause of this disease for couples (men and women) is one-third male problems, one-third female problems, and one-third both male and female problems or unknown reasons.When the infertility is because of a female problem, it is called female infertility.
Symptoms of Female Infertility
The prime, obvious, and only possible symptom of female infertility is an inability to get pregnant. Other symptoms might be menstrual disorders. It is an indication that the ovulation process is not happening in women. Apart from it, there are no other symptoms.
Causes of Female Infertility
To be pregnant, the whole reproductive cycle has to be perfect. Any problem at any step of the process will hamper the ability to get pregnant. Female infertility is due to various causes, which are mentioned below:
- Problems in Ovulations
There are several reasons for disruption of the ovulation process. For ovulation to happen, several glands and hormones have to work correctly. Any issue in their functioning can lead to ovulation disorder.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: This condition causes hormonal imbalance due to an increase in androgen production.It has an effect on the ovulation process.It is also related to fatness, insulin resistance, abnormal hair growth on the body, and acne.
- Hypothalamic dysfunction: The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that signals the pituitary gland to release hormones (follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH)) that influence the ovaries to mature eggs. Thus, ovulation starts. Disruption in the release of hormones from glands due to stress, weight loss or gain, or a remarkable increase or decrease in body weight leads to an ovulation problem.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency is the premature loss of eggs from the ovary due to genetics or cancer therapy. It is also called premature ovarian failure.
- Excess of prolactin: The excess formulation of prolactin will reduce oestrogen formulation, which will cause infertility.
- Other Causes: There are many other factors that cause ovulation disorder, like eating disorders, substance abuse, thyroid problems, stress, and age.
- Tube Infertility (Damage to the Fallopian Tube)
Any damage or blockage in the fallopian tube prevents sperm from getting to the egg or blocks the fertilised egg's movement to the uterus. It could have been caused by
- An infection in the uterus or fallopian tube is called pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Past surgery in the abdomen or pelvis region
- Endometriosis: Endometrial tissue breaks down and is flushed out by menstrual flow. This occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus. This growth is removed through surgery, which can result in damage to the fallopian tube.
- Problems in the uterus: These problems are caused by uterine polyps or fibroids. Uterine polyps are small, non-cancerous growths in the endometrium, and uterine fibroids are masses of tissue attached to the wall of the uterus. Another possibility is defection since birth, such as an unusual shape of the uterus.
- Problem in the cervix: The issue in the cervix could be cervical stenosis, which is the narrowing of the cervix and the inability of the cervix to produce quality mucus to allow sperm to travel to the uterus.
- Problem with egg quantity and quality: Since birth, women have a set number of eggs that cannot be increased in the future. They may run out before menopause. A chromosomal issue may lead to a compromise in the quality of eggs.
When should I visit a doctor?
It is to one’s benefit to have medical checks at regular intervals, but if a patient experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above, she should immediately visit the doctor.
Diagnosis of Female Infertility
The doctor starts the diagnosis with a physical exam, asks the patient about her medical history, and can ask for a fertility test to determine the reason behind infertility. Following are the tests that he may prescribe and conduct:
- Blood Test
- X-ray Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
- Ovarian Reserve Examination
- Saline sonohysterogram (SIS)
Treatment of female infertility
Treatment depends on the cause of infertility, its severity, the patient's age, and many other factors. The treatment options are as follows:
- Medication: prescribing drugs for infertility due to an ovulation problem like clomiphene citrate, gonadotropins, letrozole, etc.
- Surgery—laparoscopic surgery and tubal surgeries
- Reproductive assistance like IVF and intrauterine insemination
Infertility in couples is due to one-third male problems, one-third female problems, and one-third both male and female for unknown reasons.
It is any disruption in the release of hormones from glands that influence ovaries to fertilise eggs, i.e., to start ovulation.
A device is inserted into the cervix and an X-ray of the fallopian tube is taken.
It is caused by fallopian tube damage or obstruction.
IVF and intrauterine insemination