The ability to become pregnant can be hindered by a number of factors. Pinpointing the cause of female infertility is the first step in helping women who have been diagnosed infertile to conceive.
The causes of female infertility are many, varying from mechanical factors to hormonal ones. Some women are diagnosed with a combination of both mechanical and hormonal factors.
These factors include:
- blocked fallopian tubes – adhesions can cause blockage anywhere within one or both fallopian tubes
- hydrosalpinx - build-up of fluid within the fallopian tubes
- pelvic adhesions - internal scars that form as a result of infection, inflammation, surgery or trauma in the pelvic region
- endometriosis - tissue that normally lines the uterus is found in other areas of the body, particularly on and near the uterus; endometriosis frequently implants on the reproductive organs and can bind them to other structures. Endometriosis is considered a leading cause of female infertility.
- hormonal problems, such as high FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) – an imbalance of a female sex hormones that can lead to menstrual cycle changes and formation of cysts in the ovaries
- secondary infertility – inability to conceive or carry a child to full-term after the birth of a biological child
Interestingly, secondary infertility is more common than primary infertility, according to data from the National Center for Infertility. Yet, couples who experience secondary infertility are less likely to seek medical treatment because they were able to become pregnant the first time.