Infertility is the inability of a couple to achieve conception after one year of repetitive unprotected sex and it affects 1 in every 6 couples. Causes of Infertility is not sex dependent as 40% of causes is from the Man and another 40% is from the Woman, with the remaining 20% linked to unknown causes.
Causes of female infertility.
- The fertilized egg does not implant in the lining of the uterus (womb).
- The eggs cannot move from the ovaries to the womb or the ovaries have problems producing eggs.
- Abnormalities in the shape or structure of the uterus.
Possible Causes of Female infertility.
- Damaged or block of Fallopian tubes.
- Ovarian cysts and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Pelvic infection or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Scarring from sexually transmitted infection, previous abdominal surgery, or endometriosis
- Tubal blockage.
- Cervical stenosis.
- Advanced age( declining in Fertility from age 35.)
- And couple of others
Now lets examine how each part of the female reproductive organ can contribute to infertility in females.
The cervix links the vagina to the uterus and it contains secretions that help to propel the sperm up to the uterus to the fallopian tube. There are some conditions such as when the cervical mucus is hostile to the sperm hence not allowing the sperm to be propelled to its required destination.
People suffering from cervical cancer in which the surfaces of the cervix are destroyed could also affect sperm navigation .
Rarely, the cervix might be abnormally closed or narrow.
Obstruction could occur in the womb when there are a lot of scars in it due to surgeries like Dilation/curettage (D/C). The condition when there is a lot of scars in the womb is called ASHERMANNS SYNDROME. Other conditions include, fibroid, abnormal growth in the womb, which could occasionally block the entrance that leads to the fallopian tube.
Women with contracted or completely blocked uterine tubes or no uterine tubes at all, find it difficult to become pregnant, as the egg is either destroyed in the uterine tube or will not be caught by the uterine tube and therefore disappear into the abdominal cavity.
Similarly, it is difficult for sperm cells to penetrate the uterine tube in such conditions.
This part is the narrowest part of the pathways making it the commonest site where infertility occurs the most. Once there is an obstruction, there is a big problem.
There are several causes of tubal blockage. Obstruction normally occurs from infections like STI(sexually transmitted infections).
This infections either block the tube OR after the infection heals, the scars that form block the tubes.That is why its necessary for females to take drastic actions when they have issues involving vaginal discharge. Obstruction could also arise from infection arising from abortion.
Also, if sex hormones (estrogen) necessary for normal patency of the tube is low, it could narrow the tubes and make the cilia not able to propel the sperms to the final destination.
You can still get pregnant If your problem is tubal blockage, but it will not be natural, the solution will be IVF treatment, where the egg is fertilized outside the uterus in a laboratory, after which the fertilized egg will be transferred into the uterus for normal growth.
If there is a problem in the ovary where it cant ovulate (release an egg),it is medically termed Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Females suffering from this usually have an abnormal high number of follicles which disturb your ovulation,don’t menstruate or menstruate irregularly, commonly obese, sometimes grow little beard, other times females suffering from such don’t present with any symptom. Another problem with the ovary is that it could fail to function, ovarian failure, the ovaries refuse to ovulate.
PCOS is the most frequent cause of lacking or disturbed ovulation. They(women suffering from PCOS) have a higher level of male sex hormones
Since there are various degrees of PCO and degrees of PCO symptoms. this influences the chosen individual treatment. Which could be a combine medical treatment with either of invitrofertilization (IVF) or insemination (IUI).
This can be a painful, chronic and mysterious disease.Where cells of the uterus are found in the ovaries, this is not suppose to be like that because they disturb the normal functions of the ovary making it not to ovulate. The condition can also be found in any other part of the body. Endometriosis arises when endometrium or part of it is found outside the uterus, usually in the abdomen, on the ovaries and on the uterine tubes and the lining of the pelvic cavity.
This endometrial growths can also be found in the bladder,bowel,vagina and the cervix. This tissue is influenced by the hormones like in the endometrium and grows towards the menstruation. Unlike the endometrium the endometrial tissue cannot get rid of the bleeding and instead of disappearing through the uterus the blood runs into the abdominal cavity. This results in a form of infection and cysts of blood in the abdominal cavity and can be very painful.
- Symptoms of endometriosis are typically:
- Pain/Cramping during menstruation.(menstrual pain is usually much worse than usual)
- Pain at the ovulation.
- Pain while having sex.
- Heavy and/or irregular menstruation.
Causes of endometriosis remains unknown, making it a mysterious disease sort of, but the disease is thought to be hereditary.
Since there are various degrees of endometriosis and since endometriosis occurs on different places from woman to woman, it is an individual evaluation to find the best treatment. A successful treatment in one woman might not be the right treatment for another. Endometriosis can be treated medically and/or through a laparoscopy. A laparoscopy is a minor surgical procedure, which involves your doctor putting a thin scope into your abdomen to view your pelvic organs. if any extra endometrial tissue is seen during the procedure, he/she can remove it to treat the condition.
Other Things to watch out for
The brain is responsible for the control of the functions of the ovaries, it releases hormones to regulate the production of estrogen and hence ovulation. If there is a tumor in the brain or any disturbances to the brain, it could disrupt the regulation of ovarian function. People with such condition complain of severe headache, vomiting, and visual blurring.
The thyroid gland is also another one, its function is to maintain all activities that go on in the body, when the body is looking dull its releases hormones to activate the body and when the body is too hyperactive, it lowers the activity of the body. In abnormal conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism or goiter when the thyroid gland doesn’t know when to activate or deactivate the body system, it affects normal ovulation that takes place in the ovaries. People suffering from this complain of excessive sweating, nervousness, palpitation, weight loss, and diarrhea.
- Drug Abuse.
- Excessive smoking/Consumption of alcohol .
All of which can suppress ovulation from taking place. In healthy couples under age 30 who have sex regularly, the chance of getting pregnant is about 25 – 30% per month.
A woman’s peak fertility occurs in her early 20s. After age 35 (and especially 40), the chance that a woman can get pregnant drops considerably. The age when fertility starts to decline is different from woman to woman.