In the US, infertility in women is the cause of about 1/3 of the cases of infertile couples. There are many causes of female infertility. These causes of infertility can be grouped into three: natural, lifestyle, and medical.
A natural cause simply refers to a woman’s biological clock. As she grows older, her chances of getting pregnant become slimmer. Smoking, drinking, substance abuse, and other bad health habits are among the unhealthy lifestyles identified to be possible causes of infertility. Medical causes refer to the underlying medical problems that lead to female infertility.
The top 5 medical reasons for infertility in women:
1. Cervical Disease
The consistency of the mucus that a female’s cervix produces becomes abnormal when she is suffering from a cervical disease. This abnormal mucus consistency greatly affects the chances of the egg getting fertilized since a normal consistency of cervical mucus is needed to enable the sperm to successfully reach the uterus.
Endometriosis is a disease which causes abnormal growth of the uterine lining outside of the uterus. This growth most commonly occurs in the other reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. Like the normal lining of the uterus, this abnormal growth is affected by a woman’s monthly cycle of hormones. The extra-uterine lining will thicken before it is shed during a woman’s menstrual period. Unlike the uterus though, the blood that flows from the extra-uterine lining will have no exit path which will cause the body to think that there is a wound needing repair. Treated as such, the “wound” will be healed and scarring will occur. When this happens in the reproductive organs, the chances of conceiving considerably lessen. For example, scarring within the fallopian tubes can block them and stop the egg from travelling down to the uterus.
3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is the infection of a woman’s reproduction system. It is often caused by bacteria, virus, parasites, or fungi. The infection can cause inflammation in some of the reproductive organs such as the Fallopian tubes. When this happens, scarring can occur which can then block the passageway thus preventing the egg from going down to the uterus and causing infertility.
4. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Infertility in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also called PCOS, is very common. This is because PCOS is a condition wherein a woman’s hormones are out of balance. A change in one type of hormone causes a change in another kind of hormone which may also trigger another change in a different one. One of the imbalances can be found in the woman’s sex hormones, specifically the amount of androgens produced in her body. Androgens are similar to testosterone. It is commonly produced in a woman’s body but PCOS causes her to have higher than normal levels which then affects not only her appearance (increased hair growth and acne) but also has an effect on her menstrual cycle. An increased level of androgens can cause irregular or no ovulation leading to irregular menstrual periods, all of which affect a woman’s fertility.
5. Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity
In layman’s terms, Seminal Plasma Hypersensitivity is sperm allergy. Yes, a good number of women have been diagnosed to be allergic to sperm. According to research, more than five percent of women with an infertility problem actually have sperm allergy. Being allergic to sperm, the woman’s body will perceive the sperm as a foreign substance and will start producing antibodies to stop the “invaders” by killing them. This, in turn, puts a halt in the fertilization process. Infertility in women suffering from sperm allergy can therefore be expected.