At first glance, getting pregnant might seem simple. But it’s a complex process that must happen in exactly the right way, and when it doesn’t, infertility is often the result.
Doctors generally diagnose infertility after you’ve been trying for at least one year to get pregnant (or after six months if you’re over age 35). About 6 million American women struggle with infertility, and it can be caused by a problem anywhere in the human reproductive process.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility, but it's also treatable. A PCOS diagnosis means you can start treatment right away and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
But if PCOS isn’t what’s causing your infertility, you might feel like you’re out of options. Board-certified OB/GYN A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our team are here to help. We provide compassionate infertility care.
In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at some of the lesser-known causes of female infertility.
Beyond PCOS: the possible causes of infertility
Understanding infertility starts by understanding the steps of getting pregnant. First, one of your ovaries releases a mature egg and the egg travels to your fallopian tube.
Meanwhile, sperm moves through your cervix and your uterus to your fallopian tubes, where it fertilizes the egg. The egg moves from your fallopian tube to your uterus, and finally, it implants into your uterine wall and begins to grow.
A problem with any part of this process can cause infertility, including:
Endometriosis affects about one in 10 women. It’s a gynecological condition that causes the tissues lining your uterus (endometrium) to grow elsewhere in your body.
Endometrial tissue can grow in and around other reproductive organs and impair their function. If endometriosis blocks your fallopian tubes, it can lead to infertility because it prevents eggs from exiting and sperm from entering.
Blocked fallopian tubes
Along with endometriosis, other issues can cause blocked fallopian tubes. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and surgical scarring can block one or both tubes and interfere with your reproductive cycle.
Sometimes other structural abnormalities in your fallopian tubes, uterus, or cervix can contribute to infertility too.
Uterine fibroids and polyps are noncancerous growths in the lining of your uterus. They usually don’t cause symptoms, but they may contribute to infertility. Fibroids that block your fallopian tubes or interfere with the implantation process can cause infertility in some women.
PCOS is a type of hormonal imbalance, but it’s not the only imbalance that can cause infertility.
A handful of hormones influence reproduction, including estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin. Too much or too little of any of these can make getting pregnant difficult.
Premature ovarian failure
Premature ovarian failure is a condition that makes your ovaries stop producing eggs before age 40. It’s also called primary ovarian insufficiency, and it may be caused by an autoimmune response, genetics, or chemotherapy.
Premature ovarian failure causes infertility because healthy eggs aren’t released for fertilization.
Get treatment today for infertility
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year without success, don’t wait to schedule an infertility appointment. Many types of infertility are treatable, and Dr. Coppa and our team are dedicated to identifying the possible causes and finding a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Call our offices in Cranston, Providence, or Smithfield, Rhode Island, or request your first appointment online now.