To get pregnant, women need functioning reproductive organs: fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. Conditions affecting any of these can cause infertility according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ovulatory disorders, which deter or prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs, are one of the most common causes of female infertility, according to Stanford University.
Seven leading causes of female infertility may include:
1) Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is an ovulatory disorder, and the most common cause of female infertility. PCOS is a hormone imbalance problem that can interfere with normal ovulation.
Normally an egg is produced from a follicle inside the ovary. Then it is released into the fallopian tube. But with PCOS, the hormone imbalance disrupts this process. These eggs never mature and simply become cysts. In the end, no egg is released.
2) Physical damage to the ovaries
Ovaries can become damaged after extensive, invasive, or multiple surgeries for conditions such as repeated ovarian cysts. When this happens the follicles inside the ovaries cannot mature properly, and ovulation does not happen.
3) Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR)
Diminished ovarian reserve occurs when the ovary’s ability to produce eggs is diminished due to genetic, medical, surgical or unexplained causes. Age has something to do with DOR as well. Ovarian reserves wane as women get older.
4) Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
Premature ovarian insufficiency occurs when ovaries fail before a woman turns 40 years of age. POI can be compared to premature menopause.
Fallopian tube damage or blockage is another cause of female infertility. Examples are pelvic adhesions, a history of abdominal surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis.
Endometriosis is the excessive growth of the endometrium. That’s the lining of the uterus. This growth doesn’t just occur in the uterus. It can also happen in the abdomen, the fallopian tubes, ovaries and the pelvic peritoneum.
6) Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
One important reason to get tested for STDs is that some can make women infertile. PID can result from chlamydia and gonorrhea. These bacteria can scar the fallopian tubes, making it nearly impossible for egg and sperm to ever meet.
7) Uterine or cervical abnormalities
Uterine or cervical abnormalities include problems with the cervical opening or mucus, or abnormalities in the uterine cavity or shape. Benign tumors (uterine fibroids) in the uterine wall rarely cause infertility. But these uterine fibroids may distort the uterine cavity and thus interfere with implanting the fertilized egg.
"Infertility." Causes. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
Lambert, Katie. "5 Most Common Causes of Infertility - HowStuffWorks." HowStuffWorks. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
"What Causes Female Infertility?" What Causes Female Infertility? Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
https://web.stanford.edu/class/siw198q/websites/reprotech/New Ways of Making Babies/Causefem.htm
"What Causes Infertility in Women?" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 June 2013. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.
Reviewed April 3, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith