Common Causes of Infertility in Women

Infertility in Women

Infertility isn't just a women's issue. In fact, there are several common causes of infertility in men. However, this article will delve into the top reasons for female infertility. These reasons include:
  • Ovulation problems
  • Endometriosis
  • Problems with the fallopian tubes
  • Problems with the uterus or cervix
  • Unknown causes (unexplained infertility).

Ovulation Disorders

Problems with ovulation are by far the most common cause of infertility in women. Between 25 percent and 50 percent of women who are infertile either ovulate infrequently or don't ovulate at all.
Healthcare providers call it anovulation when you're not ovulating at all, or oligoovulation when you still occasionally ovulate.
One of the biggest signs that a woman may not be ovulating is the absence of a monthly menstrual period. An irregular period or light bleeding can also be indications that ovulation isn't occurring as it should.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Many times, it's an imbalance of hormones that causes irregular ovulation, and the most common hormonal problem is a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). With PCOS, the follicles in the ovaries stop responding to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormone that tells the follicles to make an egg. When the follicles stop responding to FSH, they don't mature as normal and an egg isn't released.
This all happens because the ovaries are making excess androgen hormones. Testosterone is the most well-known androgen. While these male hormones are naturally present in small amounts in females, women who have PCOS make too much of them. The excess androgen production causes other "male-like" symptoms too, such as unwanted body hair, small breasts, acne, and male pattern baldness on the head.
Obesity increases your risk for PCOS. So, if you're overweight, your healthcare provider may recommend weight loss and lifestyle changes before trying other fertility treatments. However, only about one-third of women with PCOS are overweight, so there's more to it than just weight. 
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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