Many people begin daydreaming about their future partner and children at an early age. It’s easy to picture yourself shopping for adorable tiny clothing and pushing a stroller through your neighborhood, or taking milestone photos each month of your baby’s first year of life.
What many people don’t realize is that in order for a woman to get pregnant, a lot of things have to go exactly right – and even in the best, most “by the book” circumstances, they sometimes don’t. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 12% of American women aged 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant. To put that statistic in a different perspective, 12% is about one in eight women.
Although there is strong data on the number of people affected by infertility, the question of what causes it isn’t as straightforward. There are a number of things that can cause infertility in both males and females. In many cases, it’s a combination of factors. At Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne Florida, we understand that experiencing infertility can be frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming, among many other things. We also believe that knowledge truly is power, and we’re passionate about helping our patients understand every aspect of their fertility journeys. To that end, here’s a closer look at the most common causes of female infertility.
What Causes Infertility in Females?
One of the most common misconceptions about infertility is that it only affects women. That simply isn’t true. Female infertility accounts for approximately one-third of all infertility cases, with male infertility and unknown factors each being about equal. So what exactly are the most common female infertility causes?
Data shows that failure to ovulate is one of the top causes of infertility in women, occurring in 40% of female infertility cases. This can be caused by a number of factors, including thyroid disease and other endocrine disorders, hormonal imbalance, aging, and certain gynecological conditions. The most common of these conditions are primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). This is sometimes also called premature ovarian failure, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In both, ovulation is often irregular or stops altogether for months at a time.
PCOS is such a significant cause of female infertility that it needs to be discussed in greater detail. This hormonal imbalance interferes with ovary development and egg release, which can result in cysts developing on the ovaries. The PCOS Awareness Association says that about 10% of childbearing-age women are affected by PCOS, but less than half are diagnosed and aware of their condition.
Endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, is another leading cause of female infertility. The tissue can grow in the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries, or behind the uterus. This tissue can cause blocked or damaged fallopian tubes as well as preventing implantation.
Depending on their size and position, uterine fibroids can block the fallopian tubes and interfere with implantation. Although it’s not known what causes uterine fibroids, we do know that these growths, which form on the interior of the uterus, are found in up to 10% of infertile women.
Age directly affects fertility, with the number of eggs and their quality declining substantially after a woman turns 30. There are certainly exceptions to every rule. However, it’s important to understand that waiting to become pregnant may impact your ability to get pregnant.
A woman’s health is a large contributing factor to fertility. Some autoimmune disorders can negatively impact fertility. This is possibly because of the associated medications or because the body produces antibodies that affect the sperm.
Is Female Infertility Preventable?
The vast majority of infertility causes are not preventable, unfortunately. However, maintaining healthy habits may help increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Exercise regularly, prioritize sleep, avoid as much stress as possible (easier said than done, we know!), abstain from consuming tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, and minimize your exposure to environmental toxins. Maintaining a healthy weight is also crucial, as being either too over- or underweight can reduce the likelihood of becoming pregnant.
If you’re having difficulty conceiving, please contact us to schedule a consultation at our Melbourne, FL fertility center. Taking this first step can be daunting, but we will guide you through each step of the process. We are here to help you determine the best path forward. Additionally, we look forward to meeting you and being part of your journey to parenthood.