Infertility is a major problem for women. It can leave us feeling embarrassed, upset, inadequate and more. For many women, they feel their sole purpose in life is to be a mother and finding out they cannot have a child biologically can be devastating.
Understanding the reasons for infertility can sometimes help to understand the situation. There are times that you can prevent infertility in the future and in some cases, reverse the problems. What you need to do is understand all the reasons that you may be infertile or the reasons that may cause infertility problems in the future.
Here is a look at the nine most common reasons for infertility in women. You can discuss the reasons and your options with your doctor when you understand more.
Disruption of Your Ovulation Cycle
Among the most common reasons for infertility are those that involve the ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes, and your ovulation cycle. It can take doctors time to figure out the exact reason when it is linked to your ovulation cycle and this part of the body. You may go through a series of blood and physical exams to get to the bottom of it all.
Disruption of your ovulation cycle is more common than you would think. One of the most common issues is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is commonly only diagnosed when you start thinking about having children. By then it can be too late to reverse the problem. While these types of disorders do not necessarily make you entirely infertile, they make it harder to get pregnant. It is harder to time your cycle to know when you are at your most fertile moments.
Hyperprolactinemia is another condition that affects your ovarian cycle. When your body produces too much prolactin (which will stimulate the production of breast milk), it can interfere with your ovulation process. Prolactin can prevent the body from releasing eggs, which is why during breastfeeding you can find it difficult to get pregnant again.
Another hormonal condition is linked to your thyroid. If this does not function properly, all your hormones and your metabolism will be out of sync. You can find your menstrual cycle difficult to track and it can even cause permanent infertility if not treated.
Cervical, Fallopian Tubes, and Uterine Problems
As mentioned, problems within this part of the body can cause infertility. Some of these are medical issues that cannot be improved, and others are due to illnesses. You can also suffer trauma that makes it hard to get pregnant.
Abnormalities around the cervix or in the uterus can lead to infertility. This problem could be something like a benign tumor within the uterine wall, which can lead to a blockage within the fallopian tubes or make it harder for an egg to implant within the lining of the uterus.
If you have the pelvic inflammatory disease, you may have inflammation within the fallopian tube. This can make it hard for eggs to pass down the tube and make it hard for the sperm to get to the eggs. Inflammation is common in those with a sexually transmitted infection when there are adhesions in the area, or due to endometriosis.
Endometriosis is when endometrial tissue grows outside of your uterus. It can stop the ovarian functioning properly, making it harder to release eggs properly. It can also cause problems with fertilized eggs implanting.
Scar tissue within the pelvic area can also cause fertility problems. Scar tissue does not mean you have had a trauma, either, although it can. Having a pelvic infection or some type of surgery, surgery can lead to scar tissue. This type of tissue can cause thick lining within the uterus, making it harder for a fertilized egg to implant within the womb.
Early Menopause Taking Effect
While menopause usually happens in the 50s and beyond, there are times that it can start much earlier. Early menopause is diagnosed when the ovaries stop working below the age of 40 years. This is when a lot of women are now looking at starting a family since they’ve already started their career and gained success.
There are several reasons suggested why early menopause can begin. In many cases, genetic conditions are believed to be linked with the ovaries not working effectively. This is common in those with Turner syndrome and people carrying the Fragile X syndrome. However, there are non-genetic conditions often believed.
An immune system disease may be the cause of your ovaries being unable to work. The immune system disorder can affect your hormones, which control the menstrual cycle. Radiation and chemotherapies are also linked to early menopause. Women who have cancer early are often recommended to freeze some of their eggs to make it possible to get pregnant later in life if they would like. This is especially the case in women in long-term relationships where the couple may want a baby later.
Tobacco and Alcohol Use Can Cause Problems
Your lifestyle can also directly affect your fertility. Not only can they prevent you from getting pregnant, but they can also make miscarriages more likely.
Smoking tobacco can lead to inflammation of the body due to the toxins. The body’s hormones are out of sync, making it harder for the menstrual cycle remaining in sync. Tobacco is also linked to miscarriages early in a pregnancy. If you are lucky to get pregnant and not suffer a miscarriage, the tobacco can have adverse effects on the developing baby.
Alcohol is also considered dangerous and can make it hard to conceive. The higher levels of toxins cause a problem, as well as contribute to birth defects and miscarriages. Likewise, illegal drugs have also been linked to infertility issues.
It is not just women who are affected by these lifestyle decisions. Men can suffer low sperm count due to drinking, smoking, and drug use. It is important to abstain if you are trying to get pregnant for both in the relationship.
Your Weight Directly Affects Menstrual Cycles
While there are medical reasons for poor and irregular menstrual cycles, your weight may also influence them. Being underweight can lead to your periods completely stopping, which means you do not release an egg to be fertilized. Your body does not store the eggs forever and they eventually decline in quality.
Problems with being underweight do not just happen because of an eating disorder or because you have stuck to a low-calorie diet. If you do a lot of exercises, especially if you are a dancer or gymnast, you may find that you struggle to have regular periods. While they may be normal for your career, they are contributing to your infertility.
In most of cases, gaining weight can help to improve your fertility. They help to return your menstrual cycle to something considered normal for the average woman.
Being overweight can also cause issues for your fertility. Your hormones will be out of balance and you can find your menstrual cycle is negatively affected. Being overweight can also lead to the risk of miscarriages and low birth-weight babies.
Your Eggs Are Not Healthy Enough
Sometimes it is not about the inability for a fertilized egg to implant. There may be nothing wrong with your pelvic area and instead, it is about the health of your eggs. There are multiple reasons why your eggs may not be healthy. In some cases, it is damage to the reproductive organs, but it could also be due to an illness, your age, and autoimmune disorder, or something genetic.
The pollution in the air can also affect the health of your eggs. They succumb to some of the toxins and cannot develop properly. In some cases, you will see problems with your menstrual cycle if this is the case.
If your doctor believes that poor egg health is an issue and you have a poor ovary reserve (which means you do not have many eggs left) then you will be checked for this. Doctors screen for this in people under 40 because of the risk of Premature Ovarian Failure (early menopause).
There is little that your doctor can do to help overcome this reason for infertility. Your doctor will discuss all your options with you, and it may involve IVF and surrogacy.
Your Body Attacks the Sperm
Did you know that the body can view the sperm as a dangerous invader? Some women experience their immune systems attacking the sperms, as the immune system attempts to protect the health. The sperm is killed off, making it almost impossible for it to reach the released egg. The sperm that does survive can be damaged, leading to miscarriage after the egg is fertilized and implanted.
You may notice some side effects of anti-sperm antibodies being created. If you have a rash or soreness after intercourse, it may be your body suffering an allergic reaction to the sperm. This is a sign that your immune system is getting to work.
It may not just be you creating antibodies. Men can also create them against their own sperm! This is common after surgery or injury to the testicles and is highly common in men after they’ve had vasectomies.
A Combination of Problems
In between 20 and 30 percent of cases, there is not just one reason for infertility. It could be that you or both you and your partner suffer multiple reasons for infertility. For example, you may have PCOS, while your partner has a low sperm count. You may create antibodies against the sperm, while also having poor menstrual cycles.
Your doctor will help determine the reason or reasons for your infertility. When it comes to combined problems, it can be harder to overcome infertility, making it a permanent issue. There may not be any treatments to help increase or decrease certain hormones since there are other problems at play.
Combination of fertility problems does not mean you cannot have children. Your doctor will consider all your options, giving you time to handle the disappointment before considering other options to have a baby.
Male Reasons for Infertility
Sometimes it is not the female suffering problems. Males can also suffer from infertility issues. Low sperm count or male anti-sperm antibodies can create an issue. The sperm may not be strong enough to get through the cervix and around the pelvic system to reach the egg that needs fertilizing.
Poor sperm strength or count can be linked to many environmental and genetic reasons. You may have an illness that has caused problems for the health of your sperm. Pesticides, chemicals, and pollutants may have cause ill-health. Trauma to the testicles may also be the reason for infertility in men. Then there are genetic and autoimmune conditions that can affect the hormones in the body, making it harder for the body to produce enough sperm.
Unexplained Problems Causing Infertility
In around 15 percent of cases, infertility does not have an explanation. Doctors cannot figure out why you cannot get pregnant or why pregnancies are ending in miscarriages or stillbirths. Both partners will have multiple tests run, only for doctors to run up against one dead end or another. The multiple tests will help to rule out the male reasons for infertility, too.
In these cases, natural remedies are often considered. For example, it could be your stress levels making it hard to get pregnant. The higher stress levels affect the balance of other hormones. Once you take steps to improve your stress levels, you can find it easier to get pregnant.
This is another element your doctor will consider. They will go through all the potential reasons and then look at lifestyle changes that may help to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
It can be devastating to learn that you are infertile, but do not give up. There are many reasons for infertility and not all mean permanent infertility. Your doctor may be able to offer treatments that improve your egg health, the pelvic area, and fertilization and implantation within the body.