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It is estimated that roughly 15-20 percent of reproductive age females in India suffer from some form of infertility. What compounds the problem further is that infertility among females manifests in more than one way. There are several types of infertility when it comes to women and it is important to diagnose the exact cause before initiating any female infertility treatment. Here we look at some of the most common causes of infertility among women and what causes them.
The reason behind almost half of the female infertility cases, the absence of ovulation (also known as anovulation) can be due to several reasons like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), POI (primary ovarian insufficiency), hormonal disturbances, lifestyle and environmental factors, and ageing. Treatment usually involves treating the underlying reason for anovulation before attempting pregnancy.
Structural Issues of the Reproductive System
Structural problems are usually characterized by the presence of excess tissue in the uterus or fallopian tubes, which can cause a partial or full blockage. Such a blockage prevents the movement of the egg from the ovaries to the uterus and hinders the sperm from meeting and fertilizing the egg. These structural problems could be the result of problems like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, polyps, uterine scarring, or an abnormally shaped uterus.
In this condition, the tissue inside the uterine cavity is found growing outside of it. Known as endometrial tissue, it can cause structural changes that hamper a woman’s ability to get pregnant. Multiple studies have shown that around 30-50 percent of infertile women suffer from endometriosis while 30-40% of women suffering from endometriosis have fertility issues. Although the exact correlation between endometriosis and infertility is yet to be established, there are multiple theories on why it is among the leading female infertility causes. Some of these include the formation of scar tissue that leads to pelvic blockages, change in the fluid levels of the peritoneum (which is the abdominal lining) which negatively impacts egg and sperm function, and chemical alterations of the uterine lining that obstruct the embryo’s implantation process.
Informal studies have shown that roughly 25 percent of women who seek out a fertility clinic in India for treatment suffer from PCOS. The condition is denoted by excess production of androgens by the ovaries, and in certain cases, the adrenal glands. The abnormal amounts of these hormones get in the way of ovarian follicles development and the release of eggs during the course of ovulation. This leads to the formation of cysts or sacs of fluid in the ovaries. Although the precise cause of PCOS remains unknown, studies point towards a mix of environmental and genetic factors as leading to the condition.
Also known varyingly as premature menopause, early menopause, or ovarian failure, POI is when a woman’s ovaries no longer produce hormones and eggs necessary for pregnancy. Ovulation in women with POI is irregular, which impedes their efforts towards conceiving a child. Problematic ovaries may also lead to higher than normal levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones, which further compound a woman’s fertility problems. With proper treatment, there is a good chance of women with POI managing to get pregnant although a majority of instances require the affected woman/couple to go for surrogacy treatment in India.
Uterine fibroids are benign tissue growths that manifest inside the uterus. Depending upon their location and size, these fibroids may exhibit certain female infertility symptoms. Uterine fibroids are believed to have a genetic origin and are seen in roughly 10 percent of infertile women. They start affecting a woman’s fertility only if they grow in the uterine cavity or are larger than 6 cm in diameter. Because of their noncancerous nature, uterine fibroids become a threat to a woman’s fertility when they,
- Alter the cervix’s position, which can affect the number of sperm entering the uterus.
- Alter the uterus’s shape, which can get in the way of sperm movement or egg implantation.
- Obstruct the fallopian tubes, which can block the sperm from meeting the egg and prevent a fertilized egg from travelling to the uterus.
- Meddle with the uterus’s blood flow, which can cause problems with embryo implantation.
An autoimmune disorder is when the immune system of body attacks its own cells and tissues that it would otherwise leave alone. Hashimoto’s disease, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other kinds of thyroiditis are examples of autoimmune disorders that may have a negative impact on female fertility. And though the exact correlation between these issues and fertility problems is not clearly understood, there is a consensus that it may have something to do with inflammation of the placenta or the uterus or the medication prescribed to treat those autoimmune disorders.
If you suspect any of the above problems is preventing you and your partner from conceiving a child, consult your physician or a fertility specialist immediately. In many instances, timely diagnosis and treatment is the difference between a couple experiencing the joys of parenthood and remaining childless for life.