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The 3 Most Common Causes of Infertility

The 3 Most Common Causes of Infertility

The inability of a woman to conceive after a year of having unprotected sex is known as infertility. Infertility can be present from birth (congenital) or can be acquired. It has many causes; however, the three most common causes of infertility are:

Ovulation problems

Ovulation is the release of an egg every month from one of the ovaries. Certain conditions can prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs which include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder characterized by an imbalance in the levels of certain female hormones
  • Premature ovarian failure, a condition in which the ovaries stop functioning before the age of 40 years
  • Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, the absence of periods due to excessive stress
  • Diminished ovarian reserve, occurs when egg production diminishes as a result of surgical, medical, congenital or unexplained causes

Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes

Fallopian tubes carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This is where the egg and sperm meet and get fertilized. Any damage to them can affect fertilization and result in infertility or pregnancy outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy). Damaged or blocked fallopian tube can result from:

  • Pelvic surgeries cause the formation of scar tissue
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease caused by infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea
  • Endometriosis occurs when the tissues of the uterus (endometrium) starts growing on surfaces outside of the uterus such as ovaries, and fallopian tubes
  • Salpingitis or the inflammation of the fallopian tube

Sperm abnormalities

Infertility is not only a problem in women but is contributed by both men and women. Male infertility is primarily determined by the number, motility and shape of sperm in an ejaculated semen sample. Abnormalities may occur due to the following common conditions:

  • Varicoceles, which is characterized by enlarged veins on testicles
  • Medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes and infection
  • Treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as substance abuse, testosterone supplementation and anabolic steroid use
  • Exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides and lead

Dealing with infertility can be stressful and emotional, but there is hope; about two-thirds of the couples treated for infertility conceive successfully! Your doctor will be the best person to address your individual concerns.

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