Infertility is defined as trying to get pregnant for at least a year with no success; Female infertility, male infertility or a combination of the two affects millions of couples in the United States. An estimated 10 to 18 percent of couples have fertility problem. Infertility results from female factors about one-third of the time. Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps. To get pregnant:
- A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries(ovulation),
- The egg must go through a fallopian tubetoward the uterus,
- A man’s sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way,
- The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Infertility can happen if there are problems with any of these steps.
What causes infertility in women?
Most cases of female infertility are caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods. Other factors are as following:
- Age: is the most important factor in fertility. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, and as we age, the quantity and the quality of those eggs both decline. Menopause may not happen until your early 50s, but for most women, fertility begins to decline sharply around age 35. By age 40, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant is less than 5% per menstrual cycle.
- Genetics: as with so much of our health, genes strongly influence fertility, including the age of menopause. You’re six times more likely to experience early menopause (before age 40) if your mother, sister, or grandmother experienced it.
- Hormones: hormones play the absolutely crucial role in the process of getting and staying pregnant. Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body, flowing back and forth between glands and organs; any change in your hormones can change the way your body functions. There are many hormones at work in the process of ovulation and conception; and each of these must be present at the right time, and in the right quantity, to ensure that the process goes smoothly. For example, the right level of progesterone is crucial for ovulation, embryo implantation, and during early pregnancy; not enough, and you could experience infertility or miscarriage.
- Anatomical issues: Infertility can result from damage to reproductive organs that occurs with injury or disease. One example is pelvic inflammatory disease, scar tissue and endometriosis. Additionally, some women have congenital structural abnormalities, like a differently-shaped uterus or Fallopian tube defects.
- Medical history: Unfortunately, certain medical treatments can jeopardize a woman’s fertility. Surgery to the ovaries (to remove a cyst or treat endometriosis)—could damage the ovaries or reduce ovarian reserve. Chemotherapy and radiation can destroy or damage a woman’s eggs or cause premature menopause.
- Life style: According to the researches, up to 13% of infertility may be attributable to cigarette smoking. Smoking depletes the ovarian reserve and causes chromosomal damage to a woman’s eggs. It’s estimated that women who smoke reach menopause one to four years earlier than nonsmokers. Moreover, being significantly overweight or underweight or having an irregular sleep cycle, could also affect fertility by creating a hormone imbalance.
Female Infertility Treatment
Infertility treatment depends on the cause, your age, how long you’ve been infertile and personal preferences. Because infertility is a complex disorder, treatment involves significant financial, physical, psychological and time commitments. Although some women need just one or two therapies to restore fertility, it’s possible that several different types of treatment may be needed. Treatments can either attempt to restore fertility through medication or surgery, or help you get pregnant with sophisticated techniques.