Conditions InDepth: Infertility in Women
Infertility in women is a disorder of the reproductive system that hinders the body’s ability to ovulate, conceive, or carry an infant to term. A couple is considered infertile when they have not conceived after a full year of regular sexual intercourse without using contraception. Couple infertility may be due to male factors, female factors, or a combination.
A successful pregnancy involves many steps. First, a healthy egg must be released from a woman’s ovaries (ovulation) and travel to the fallopian tube, where it is fertilized by a man’s sperm. If fertilization (conception) occurs, the fertilized egg than moves to the uterus. The embryo secures itself to the uterine wall. This begins the 38-40 week journey from embryo to fetus to baby. Problems can occur at anytime during this process and may result in infertility.
Female Reproductive Organs
Infertility affects an estimated 14% of married women ages 15-44 in the United States. Age-related ability to have a successful pregnancy is well documented. Success rates begin to decline at age 35 and are severely reduced by age 40 in women.
Common causes of infertility in women include:
- Menstrual cycle dysfunction —the most common cause of infertility in women
- Problems with ovulation —something affects the release of an egg by the ovary
- Fallopian tube blockage —present from birth or may result from surgery, trauma, or infection in the pelvic area
- ]]>Endometriosis]]> —results when tissue from the uterine lining is found outside the uterus
]]>What are the risk factors for infertility in women?]]>
]]>What are the symptoms of infertility in women?]]>
]]>How is infertility in women diagnosed?]]>
]]>What are the treatments for infertility in women?]]>
]]>Are there screening tests for infertility in women?]]>
]]>How can I reduce my risk of infertility?]]>
]]>What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?]]>
]]>What is it like to live with infertility?]]>
]]>Where can I get more information about infertility in women?]]>
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/ .
American Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.ama-assn.org/ .
American Society for Reproductive Medicine website. Available at: http://www.asrm.org/ .
Harrison’s Online. McGraw Hill's Access Medicine website. Available at: http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4 .
International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. website. Available at: http://www.inciid.org/ .
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association website. Available at: http://www.resolve.org/site/PageServer .
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>Jeff Andrews, MD, FRCSC, FACOG]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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