Depending on reproductive age, 10-40 percent of women in the US have difficulty getting-and staying-pregnant. Infertility is described as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse for women less than age 35, and 6 months for those women over 35. The good news is that a growing number of women are able to conceive and deliver a healthy baby with the help of advanced reproductive technology, such as IVF.
When you are given a diagnosis of infertility it’s only natural to look for answers to that looming question. WHY? Each case of infertility is unique. There are several issues, and combinations of issues, that compromise fertility and make it difficult, or impossible, to conceive without medical intervention. Here, we take a look at the top 6 issues that cause infertility.
Top 6 Issues That Cause Infertility
There are many different conditions that can render a couple unable to conceive naturally. Sometimes the cause is quite obvious, and sometimes the evidence is only uncovered after a series of tests and evaluations. No two cases will be exactly alike, and just as causes differ, so will treatment.
Age is among the most common reasons women experience infertility. All women are born with a finite number of eggs. Most are shed through your monthly period, and some are simply not viable enough to produce a pregnancy. These issues increase with age. Beginning at about age 30 a woman’s eggs start to diminish in quality, after 35, and 40 the odds of chromosomal abnormalities is greatly increased, and most of those pregnancies (about 70%) end in miscarriage. If you are over the age of 35 and experiencing difficulty getting, and staying, pregnant, contact a fertility specialist to find out more.
Issues with ovulation account for about 25% of infertility cases. Ovulation disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or ovarian insufficiency may prevent you from ovulating due to an imbalance of hormones. Complications with ovulation may arise due to autoimmune disorders, thyroid conditions, or a problem with your hypothalamus. You may experience a disruption in your menstrual cycle, painful periods, or pelvic pain, increased hair growth, including facial hair, adult acne, and other signs of hormonal imbalance.
Severely painful periods, pain during intercourse, or with a bowel movement, are all symptoms of endometriosis. This condition involves tissue, resembling the tissue that lines the uterus, or endometrium, attaching and growing in other areas of your pelvis, primarily your reproductive organs. Endometriosis affects about ten percent of women of reproductive age, and is among the primary issues that cause infertility.
Tubal Factor Infertility
When a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked, preventing fertilization, or keeping the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus, it’s known as tubal factor infertility. One, or both of the fallopian tubes can be partially blocked, which increases the likeliness of an ectopic-or tubal-pregnancy, or fully blocked, which prevents pregnancy. Tubal factor infertility can result from:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Certain traumas
- Scarring from previous surgery
- STIs and other pelvic infections
- Ruptured appendix
Uterine fibroids are extremely common, affecting about 40% of the women in the U.S. They are non-cancerous growths that develop inside the uterus. By themselves uterine fibroids don’t render a woman infertile. It’s only when the fibroids distort the shape of the uterus and interfere with the embryo’s ability to attach for development in the uterus. Uterine fibroids are removed surgically.
These polyps are similar to fibroids in that they grow inside of the uterus, and can distort the shape, or make it impossible for an embryo to implant and develop. Large, or multiple polyps are extremely detrimental to your fertility and all endometrial polyps should be removed.
As difficult and disheartening as it is, one in five couples dealing with infertility are left with no real cause, meaning all of the tests pertaining to fertility have come back normal. Some standard tests cannot identify certain conditions with eggs, sperm, or chromosomal abnormalities and these conditions may not be evident until IVF reveals them. Unexplained infertility does not mean the case is hopeless however, it just means that the case has not been looked at in detail. LA IVF doctors do specialize in so-called “unexplained infertility” cases and always able to explain the underlying cause in all cases. Various types of infertility treatments can enable couples to move forward and deliver a healthy baby in many cases.
Hope for Treatment
Thankfully, the area of advanced reproductive technology is ever-growing and evolving. Many couples who, just a few decades ago, could not realize, biologically, their dream of growing their family, are now experiencing healthy, happy pregnancies and deliveries. If you suspect you may be dealing with issues that cause infertility, contact a fertility specialist right away and let’s get started.