Alternate Names : Infertility in Women
Infertility is defined as a couple's inability to become pregnant after
one year of regular, unprotected sex. Female infertility means
the male is unable to impregnate the female because of female factors.
What is going on in the body?
Certain events must take place in a woman's body for pregnancy to occur:
attachment of a fertilized egg to the lining of the uterus
ovulation, which is the release of an egg from the ovary
the uniting of the egg and a man's sperm
Factors that interfere with these events are known as female factors. The inability to get pregnant may be caused by conditions in either partner. It is
estimated that 30% of infertility is caused by male factors. An additional 30% is caused by female
factors. The remaining 40% is caused by a combination of female and male factors.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There are many female factors that can make a couple unable to become pregnant. These may include conditions such as the following:
certain inherited conditions
endometriosis, a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other parts of the body
hormone imbalances, such as hypothyroidism
polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that interferes with normal release of eggs
Diseases also can be a factor in infertility, for example:
autoimmune disorders, in which the body produces antibodies to fetal tissue
diseases such as diabetes
eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa
pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection of the female pelvic organs
sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea
Additional factors in infertility include the following:
chronic vaginal discharge
congenital abnormalities of the uterus
ectopic pregnancy, or implanting of the fertilized egg outside the uterus
excess caffeine and alcohol intake
excess weight loss or weight gain
exposure to diethylstilbestrol, also known as DES, as an infant in utero
irregular periods or menstrual cycles
previous elective surgical abortion or elective medical abortion
scarring of the fallopian tubes from abdominal or pelvic surgery
total lack of menstruation
two or more previous miscarriages
use of an intrauterine device also called an IUD, which is a form of birth control
uterine fibroids or polyps
Women over the age of 35 are more likely to be infertile.