Female Infertility

What is Female Infertility?

The term female infertility refers to a woman’s inability to become pregnant after at least twelve months or more of attempting to do so, unless the woman is over 35 years of age in which case female infertility refers to trying for six months or more to become pregnant without success. Female infertility is an increasingly common issue among women of all ages.

Sometimes, a woman may be able to become pregnant but will suffer several miscarriages without carrying a pregnancy to term. This is also considered to be a form of female infertility. There are numerous reasons that a woman may suffer from infertility issues.

Female infertility can be caused by damaged fallopian tubes. These tubes that carry eggs from the ovary to the uterus can be damaged by infections and chronic diseases as well as surgery to the pelvis. Cervical and uterine issues can also cause problems with infertility and may be related to damage to those areas or even polyps or growths as well as basic structural issues. If a woman’s hormones are not in balance, the result can also be infertility. And sometimes, female infertility does not have a discoverable explanation.

What are the Symptoms of Female Infertility?

The primary symptom of female infertility is being unable to conceive a child. Another sign of female infertility is an inconsistent reproductive cycle, meaning that menstruation does not occur on a regular cycle.

Additionally, a longer than normal menstrual cycle (around 35 days or more) may be a sign of female infertility as can a short cycle of 21 days or less. More than one miscarriage in a row can also indicate an infertility issue.

Female Infertility Causes

An ovulation disorder is one of the most common reasons why women become infertile. It accounts for about 30% of female infertility cases. Ovulation disorder can be can be caused by hormonal problems that result in failure of the ovary to produce a mature egg, malfunction of the pituitary gland or malfunction of the hypothalamus.

Physical damage to the ovary can also cause female infertility. This can be in the form of repeat ovarian cyst infection or extensive and invasive surgical procedure. Female infertility can also be caused by problems in the follicles. This occurs when the follicle fails to rapture in order to produce an egg for fertilization, thus resulting in improper ovulation.

Female infertility can also result from problems in the fallopian tubes. These problems often result in damage to the fallopian tubes and can be in the form of infections, especially STIs, abdominal infection, a previous surgery, congenital defects or a previous ectopic pregnancy.

Other known causes of female infertility include endometriosis, lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, drug abuse, and chronic alcoholism, and environmental and occupational factors, like exposure to radiation and environmental toxins.

How is Female Infertility Treated?

If a woman’s infertility is caused by damage to the structures of the organs like blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.

The issue may be correctable through minimally invasive laproscopic surgery. There are also prescription drugs that can help to stimulate ovulation in women who may not be ovulating as they should be. These prescription drugs may be used alone to try to help a woman get pregnant or may be used in combination with IVF treatments to fertilize an embryo outside of the body and then implanted into the uterus. Intrauterine insemination is also an option in which large concentrations of sperm are inserted into the uterus when it is time for the woman to ovulate.

Female Infertility Prevention

Stay away from tobacco, alcohol and hard drugs – excessive smoking and drinking can greatly increase your risk of endometriosis as well as other ovarian problems. In addition, smoking can cause damage to the fallopian tubes and cervix besides increasing the risk of some cancers.

Pay attention to your biological clock. Remember, the younger you are when trying to conceive, the more likely you will get pregnant and carry your pregnancy to full term. A woman’s fertility decreases with age.

Practice safe sex. The effects of sexually transmitted infections in women are often greater. Untreated STIs can result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause female infertility and complications during pregnancy.

Other female infertility prevention measures include proper weight management, stress management and proper occupational safety management for women who work in hazardous environments.

Last Reviewed:
November 17, 2016
Last Updated:
December 21, 2017