What Causes Infertility?

Did you know that about one in 10 couples has fertility problems? Deciding it’s time to start a family and then finding out that you’re facing infertility can be devastating. But you’re not alone, and treatment can significantly improve your chances of conceiving.

Infertility is generally diagnosed when you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year, and you’ve experienced difficulties getting or staying pregnant. 

About a third of the time, fertility problems can be traced to the woman’s reproductive health. In other cases, infertility is linked to the man or the cause can’t be identified.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant without success, it’s time to make an appointment with a fertility specialist. A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our compassionate team provide fertility care for women. We’re here to help you understand a few of the most common causes of female infertility.

Endometriosis and infertility

About 11% of women ages of 15-44 have endometriosis. It’s a gynecologic condition that develops when endometrial tissue grows outside your uterus, on your ovaries, on fallopian tubes, or elsewhere in your pelvic area.

Endometrial tissue thickens and sheds during your menstrual cycle, but when it grows outside your uterus, the tissue gets trapped inside your body. Endometriosis can be a painful condition that causes heavy menstrual bleeding, pain with sexual intercourse, and infertility.

Patches of endometrial tissue can block your ovaries or fallopian tubes, making fertilization difficult or impossible. Endometriosis can also cause the tissue inside your uterus to change, making implantation difficult. 

Ovulation disorders and infertility

Ovulation is the time in your menstrual cycle when your ovaries release an egg to be fertilized. This is an extremely important reproductive process if you’re trying to get pregnant, so ovulation disorders can lead to infertility.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a type of hormonal imbalance that makes ovulation and menstrual periods irregular. It can cause ovarian cysts, weight gain, and other symptoms.

You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate, and irregular ovulation makes it difficult to predict when you’re most likely to get pregnant. PCOS and other ovulation problems are a common cause of infertility, but treatment can help you ovulate more regularly.

Hormonal imbalance and other causes of infertility

Hormones are chemical messengers in your body that play an important role in reproductive health. Many common causes of infertility are linked to hormonal imbalance. In fact, endometriosis may cause higher-than-normal levels of estrogen, while PCOS can cause low female hormone levels.

Hormonal imbalance can cause other ovulation disorders, like premature ovarian failure. Also called primary ovarian insufficiency, premature ovarian failure occurs when your ovary function declines before the age of 40.

In some cases, physical health issues contribute to infertility. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), uterine fibroids, or polyps can cause inflammation and blockages that interfere with fertilization and implantation.

Another possible cause of fertility issues is maternal age. As a woman, your fertility naturally begins declining as early as age 30. Women who are older than 35 may face more challenges when trying to conceive, and infertility may be diagnosed after about six months of trying to get pregnant.

Struggling to get pregnant can be a challenge for many couples, but seeking treatment could help you discover the underlying cause of your infertility. To schedule a preconception consultation with Dr. Coppa, call the office nearest you or schedule your appointment online.

We’re located in Cranston, Smithfield, and Providence, Rhode Island.

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