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Female infertility – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and more

FEMALE INFERTILITY

Overview of female infertility

Female infertility is nothing but a woman’s inability to conceive for six months or at least a year. Women above the age of 35 are most likely to be affected by infertility problems while trying to get pregnant.

Infertility often occurs when a woman has repeated miscarriages. Some vital factors contributing to infertility are age, physical issues, hormone abnormalities, and lifestyle or other environmental factors.

Causes of female infertility  

Causes of Female infertility

Some of the vital causes of female infertility are

Uterus problems   

The problem in the uterus is the fundamental cause of female infertility. Some of the issues that occur in the uterus are scar tissue, radiation damage, fibroids, polyps or uterine traumas.

Fallopian tubes problems

Problems occurred in the fallopian tubes reduce the fertility of women. Problems like fibroids or polyps may also be the reason for the fallopian tube problem. An abnormally shaped uterus is one of the important reasons for making it difficult to get pregnant.

Problems with ovulation  

The majority of cases of infertility are caused due to problems with ovulation. Issues with the hypothalamus or pituitary glands might induce ovulation problems.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a type of hormonal abnormality that can prevent ovulation from occurring normally. PCOS commonly causes female infertility.  

Problems with egg number and quality

Reduced ovarian reserve produces poor and low egg quality, which is one of the most common reasons for infertility, especially in women over 35 years.

Symptoms of female infertility  

Abnormal Periods

An abnormal period is different from your regular cycle or one that has never been normal. Irregular periods account for 30% to 40% of all infertility cases. If you have abnormal periods, then you may have ovulation problems. This condition of improper ovulation is called anovulation in medical terms.

Irregular Periods

If you’re wondering if irregular periods indicate infertility, the answer is no, but it may make it more difficult to conceive. Menstrual irregularities don’t always have an impact on fertility. Many women who have irregular menstrual periods become pregnant and have healthy pregnancies.

No Periods  

Amenorrhea is a condition where women experience no periods despite having completed puberty. No period indicates that a woman is seriously affected by infertility disorders.

Painful Periods  

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissues typically located in the womb are found elsewhere in the women’s body who have very heavy and painful periods. Chronic pelvic discomfort is another indication of endometriosis.

Painful period problems might worsen with time, so it’s critical to get evaluated and treated as soon as possible.

How does age impact female infertility?  

The most critical factor affecting a woman’s ability to conceive is her age. Fertility begins to decline in women after age 30, and it reduces even more beyond the age of 35.  

As women get older, they are more likely to develop illnesses that can interfere with fertility, such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis.

Treatments of female infertility

Surgery  

Fertility surgery is a surgery done on women to fix a structural issue that is causing infertility. Endometriosis, fibroids, polyps and other disorders in the reproductive organs are some causes of infertility in women that can be treated with surgery.

Ovulation induction  

Ovulation induction is the ovary’s response to external stimulation. It is used to treat infertility in women of reproductive age caused by anovulation.

Ovulation Induction is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) that entails the use of medicines to improve ovulation. It’s a first-line fertility therapy utilised when you don’t ovulate or ovulate irregularly.

In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) 

When an egg is fertilised outside the body, it is known as In-vitro fertilisation (IVF). During In-vitro fertilisation, eggs are extracted from mature follicles within an ovary. Fertility treatment stimulates the ovaries to generate more eggs than they usually would.  

After fertilisation, the fertilised egg (embryo) is returned to the womb to grow and develop.

Diagnosis of Female Infertility

Hysteroscopy

Hysteroscopy is frequently used to diagnose and treat infertility, abnormal uterine bleeding, and recurrent miscarriage in women. Doctors use diagnostic hysteroscopy to look for aberrant uterine structure, uterine fibroids, polyps and scarring.

Saline sonohysterogram  

The uterus and the morphology of the uterine cavity are evaluated by saline infusion sonohysterography (SIS). Saline sonohysterography can detect the uterine septum.  

Transvaginal ultrasound

The uterus and ovaries are thoroughly examined using transvaginal ultrasonography. Because of technological improvements, the evaluation of infertile females has been increasingly comprehensive in recent years.

X-ray hysterosalpingogram  

A hysterosalpingogram is an X-ray dye test that shows your uterus and fallopian tubes to the doctor. Hysterosalpingography (HSG) is an X-ray test that displays the internal structure of the uterus as well as whether the fallopian tubes are blocked.

A small tube is passed between the vaginal and cervix during HSG. The uterus is injected with a chemical called contrast material. It might assist your doctor in diagnosing reproductive issues caused by obstructed fallopian tubes.

Physical examination  

A general care practitioner, gynaecologist or infertility specialist undertakes the physical examination. The doctors do this superficially to examine the symptoms of infertility problems.

Blood tests  

Blood tests can reveal the levels of numerous hormones that affect female fertility. In most cases, a blood test is performed to assess egg supply and ovarian function.

Laparoscopy  

Infertility laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical treatment that involves inserting a laparoscope (a fibre-optic tube with a light and video camera) through two or more tiny incisions, most commonly in the belly button.

In most cases, laparoscopy is done for the following reasons:

  • To remove fibroids  
  • To remove endometriotic lesions
  • Correct a hydrosalpinx
  • Unblock a fallopian tube
  • Reverse tubal ligation

However, laparoscopy may interfere with your ability to conceive in rare situations.

Ultrasound scans  

Ultrasound scans check the uterus’s pelvic anatomy, including the uterine lining and bilateral ovaries. Fibroids, uterine abnormalities, hydrosalpinges and ovarian cysts are among the aberrant findings that ultrasound scans can diagnose.

Ultrasound scans of the ovaries, endometrial lining and uterus can be used in infertility testing.  

Risk Factors of female infertility

The following are some of the essential risk factors of female infertility:

Hormone issue that prevents ovulation  

Another common cause of female infertility is a polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that prevents ovulation in women. Women with PCOS frequently do not ovulate regularly due to an overabundance of androgens.

Abnormal menstrual cycle  

When the length of the menstrual cycle unexpectedly falls outside the normal range, an irregular period exists. During ovulation, an egg is released from one of the ovaries during a regular menstrual cycle.  

If the egg is not fertilised by sperm, the body is signalled to shed the blood and tissues that line your uterus by changing hormone levels.

Obesity  

Obese women are more likely to experience menstrual irregularities and anovulation. Women who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of miscarriage, infertility and pregnancy problems.

Being underweight  

Being underweight might influence a woman’s fertility by generating hormonal imbalances that alter ovulation and the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Underweight women are more likely than women in a healthy weight range to take longer than a year to become pregnant.

Having a low body-fat content  

Your resistance to diseases and energy levels will be decreased if your body fat percentage is too low, and you will be in danger of health problems. You have an increased risk of diabetes and other health problems if your body fat percentage is too high.

Endometriosis  

If you have endometriosis, getting pregnant can be more challenging. Endometriosis can affect fertility in a variety of ways, including distorted pelvic anatomy, adhesions, scarred fallopian tubes, inflammation of pelvic structures, immune system dysfunction, impaired pregnancy implantation and reduced egg quality.

Prevention of female infertility

The following are some of the best preventive tips to avoid infertility problems:

Maintain a healthy weight  

Women should always try to be more conscious of their diet, especially when they are under the age of 35. Proper body fitness and following a healthy diet are vital to prevent female infertility problems.

Quit smoking  

Quitting smoking can enhance fertility and prevent loss in egg production. The longer a person has not smoked, the lower the risk of pregnancy issues caused by smoking.

Avoid alcohol  

Alcohol has the potential to harm your sexual health. It can induce libido loss and infertility in both men and women.

Women who drink alcohol are more likely to experience heavy or irregular periods and have fertility issues. Alcohol can also interfere with ovulation, making it difficult to conceive.

When to see a doctor?  

You can consult your doctor in the following cases:  

  • Not pregnant for more than six months
  • Irregular periods
  • Poor ovulation
  • Pain during menstruation
  • Painful period

Conclusion  

Infertility is typically referred to as the inability to conceive after six months or a year of recurrent intercourse without contraception. Women should be healthy and try to maintain fitness. Don’t hesitate to consult a doctor immediately in case of any irregularities in periods.

FAQs

1. What are the signs of infertility in a woman?

The most prevalent symptom of infertility is the inability to conceive, no periods, painful periods and irregular periods.

2. Does age impact a woman’s fertility?  

The single most important factor affecting a woman’s ability to conceive and have a healthy baby is her age. Fertility begins to diminish in a woman’s early 30s and continues to decline when she turns 35. Pregnancy difficulties become more likely as women get older.

3. Does stress cause infertility?  

Stress is unlikely to be the sole cause of infertility. However, it can make it difficult for a woman to conceive. Anxiety can also have a detrimental impact by lengthening the time it takes to conceive.

4. Can infertility be cured?  

Infertility can be treated with various fertility treatments, including therapies, drugs and more, depending on the cause and the severity.

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