What are Common Causes of Female Infertility?

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  • Written By: Rolando Braza
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 June 2019
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The most common causes of female infertility can be ovulation-related, anatomy-related, or lifestyle-related. Ovulation-related infertility is caused when a woman is not ovulating regularly. Causes of female infertility that are related to anatomy may involve blocked fallopian tubes, ovaries that cannot release eggs appropriately, or cervical disorders. Lifestyle-related factors include a poor diet, smoking, or high levels of stress.

A woman should be evaluated for infertility if she is unable to get pregnant after having regular intercourse without contraception for a year if she is under 35 years old. She may also be infertile if she cannot be impregnated after having six months of regular sex without contraception and is more than 35 years old. A doctor can perform a number of diagnostic tests to determine the causes of female infertility.

The absence or imbalance of hormones can cause a woman to fail to ovulate; if this happens, there will be no eggs to fertilize. Both obesity and very low body mass can also cause ovulation problems. Menstruation that is very irregular or stops completely, called amenorrhea, can also cause an ovulation problem. A doctor may prescribe drugs such as clomiphene citrate for treatment.


Common causes of female infertility related to anatomy include cervical disorders, a blocked fallopian tube, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In the first two cases, although an egg may be released from the ovary, it may be difficult or impossible for sperm to reach it. As a result, the woman may have a great deal of difficulty getting pregnant. The inability of the cervical mucus to be stimulated and transform from thick to thin will also inhibit a man's sperm from moving into the fallopian tubes via the uterus to join with the egg.

A blocked fallopian tube can hinder sperm from coming into contact with an egg. Even if the sperm and the egg unite, the blockage will not allow the embryo to implant in the uterus. Fallopian tubes can become obstructed as a result of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), abdominal incision, or scars from sexually transmitted ailments.

PCOS is a condition that causes the ovaries to enlarge, adversely affecting a woman's ability to regularly release an egg. If an egg is released, it is often not healthy or mature. PCOS also precludes the uterus from having a healthy fertilized egg implanted. A woman suffering from PCOS may experience irregular or absent menstruation, elevated insulin levels, and hypertension, among other conditions.

Age is one of the most common causes of female infertility, and fertility issues become more pronounced as a woman grows older. In most cases, a woman's reproductive hormones decrease over time. The ability of the woman's reproductive system to produce eggs also decreases with age and brings a woman closer to infertility.

Lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet, smoking, and excessive drinking are other causes of female infertility. A stressful working environment can also contribute to infertility. A woman who prioritizes career over having children might find herself having a battle with fertility, as fertility decreases as a woman grows older.



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