Infertility is an issue that affects about 15% of couples at some point in their family-building years. If you're having a difficult time conceiving, it can be caused by a number of factors. Infertility affects both men and women nearly equally.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one-third of infertility cases are caused by female factors and one-third by male factors; the rest are a result of a combination of factors from both parties. There are conditions of each reproductive system that make them susceptible to fertility problems. Here's a look at some causes that could cause infertility in women.
Endometriosis is a condition that involves tissue from the uterine wall flourishing outside the uterus. This commonly happens on the membrane lining the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. Sometimes endometriosis is asymptomatic, which means that you won't notice any symptoms.
When there are symptoms, they include painful menstrual periods, heavy bleeding or uncharacteristic spotting, pelvic pain or painful intercourse. A doctor may opt for surgery to remove the endometrial tissue. Other options are fertility treatment coupled with artificial insemination. They can also remove tissue around fallopian tubes to help aid conception.
The fallopian tubes carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, while the eggs wait to be fertilized. When the fallopian tubes are damaged or scarred through various conditions, it can prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Some conditions that cause scarring on the fallopian tubes are endometriosis, pelvic infections, and pelvic or abdominal surgeries.
Sometimes the uterus itself hinders conception. If the uterus is shaped abnormally, or if there are polyps or fibroids present, the uterus will not be suitable for conception. If you're having trouble conceiving, your doctor may recommend a 3-D ultrasound to identify any abnormalities with your uterus.
Some uterine abnormalities can be treated through surgery or a hysteroscope, but not all cases need treatment. Speak with your doctor or fertility specialist to make sure you understand all of your options.
Each woman is born with a finite amount of eggs. Therefore, the older you get, the fewer eggs your body will produce during menstrual cycles. Their quality will deteriorate with age as well. The chances of conceiving and giving birth to a healthy, full-term baby drop significantly after age 40. Specifically, researchers say the chances of conceiving are lowered by between 3 and 5 percent each year after 30, and even more after age 40.
To combat this issue, you may decide to store your eggs while you're young and utilize them later when you're ready to start a family. You can also use donor eggs or embryos. There are specific egg donor risks involved, so whether you're harvesting and freezing your own eggs or donating them, make sure to read up on it.
Some women experience cervical conditions that prevent sperm cells from passing through the cervical canal. This can be caused by elevated mucus production, or any prior cervical surgeries or surgical procedures. The only way around this condition is through intrauterine insemination.
Many factors contribute to ovulation problems. Usually it's a hormonal condition that keeps a mature egg from developing within your ovaries. If you experience ovulation issues, you might notice infrequent or no menstrual periods. Solutions to these problems usually involve fertility drugs and treatment, in vitro fertilization and, if all else fails, adoption.
Around 40% of women who use fertility drugs to excite ovulation become pregnant within the course of about six months. Artificial insemination is not quite as successful, with only a 9% to 15% success rate per menstrual cycle. In vitro fertilization is a more stable route, with a 35% success rate.
A special X-ray called a hysterosalpingography will help doctors see whether there is a problem with your uterus or fallopian tubes. They will inject a special dye into your uterus and fallopian tubes via a catheter that will show up on the X-ray.
Being unable to conceive can be a hard reality to face. It's important to note that infertility can affect both men and women equally. While this list only covers some of the conditions that can affect women, it's crucial to be aware of the symptoms and treatment options for infertility problems in both women and men. There are also many options to help with these conditions. Between in vitro fertilization, surrogate parents, donor eggs or sperm, and adoption, there are plenty of alternatives to help you start a family of your own.