Female infertility may be the result of a number of factors. For a woman to be fertile, her body needs to produce healthy eggs that can travel unobstructed through her reproductive system and meet with sperm for fertilization. Working with a doctor at Colorado Reproductive Endocrinology is the best way to isolate the cause of your infertility and determine which treatment options may be best.
Problems with any of the following can diminish a woman’s fertility:
Several conditions can lead to the blocking of the fallopian tubes and therefore, infertility. These blockages, whether caused by surgery, endometriosis, previous infections, or pelvic inflammatory disease, can prevent the egg from reaching the sperm for pregnancy. Minimally invasive surgery may be able to repair damaged fallopian tubes. Additionally, in vitro fertilization offers a way to bypass the tubes entirely.
Hydrosalpinx is a condition where the fallopian tube is blocked and therefore filled with fluid. This condition, often caused by trauma or infection in the fallopian tube, may inhibit early embryo development or may even flush the embryo out of the uterus.
Normal ovulation is essential for producing a mature egg that can be fertilized. Disorders in ovulation can impair conception and cause infertility. Women having problems with ovulation often have irregular or absent menstrual cycles.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally grows only inside the uterus begins to spread to the ovaries, the lower abdomen, the fallopian tubes, or the outer surface of the uterus. For women desiring to get pregnant, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is an effective way of bypassing endometriosis. Surgery can also be done to remove the endometriosis.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition in which there is an imbalance of a woman’s female sex hormones. This hormonal imbalance may cause changes in the menstrual cycle, making it difficult to get pregnant. Symptoms of PCOS may include absent or irregular menstrual cycles, increased body hair, thinning of the hair on the head, and acne. Women with PCOS also have an increased risk of endometrial cancer, diabetes, and other problems.
Advanced Age Related Infertility
Unlike men, who continue to produce sperm for a lifetime, women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. As a woman ages, her stock of viable eggs for pregnancy declines. A woman’s fertility declines in her 30s, and by age 35 infertility may become a more common problem. By the time a woman is 40, her chances of becoming pregnant are reduced because she not only has fewer eggs available, but also has a reduction in egg quality. However, this does not mean that a woman over 40 cannot be helped by in vitro fertilization.
Abnormalities in the uterus like polyps, fibroids, and scar tissue can also impact fertility. Many of these conditions can be treated with minimally invasive surgery.
Abnormalities of the cervix, or prior surgery on the cervix, can also affect a woman’s ability to have a baby. Fortunately, this can be treated through surgery, or can be bypassed entirely through intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.
Uterine fibroids, also known as “leiomyoma” or just “myoma,” are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids can be present as a single tumor or many tumors, and they can be as small as a pebble or, in more unusual cases, as large as a grapefruit. Uterine fibroids can lead to infertility, miscarriage, and early onset of labor.
When no other conclusion to the source of infertility can be diagnosed, a patient has unexplained fertility. This diagnosis is given after all other attempts to determine the cause of infertility have been ruled out.
If you are struggling with infertility, or if you have questions about your symptoms, call us at (303) 321-7115 or request an appointment here.