Infertility in women

About Infertility in Women

Infertility in women or Female infertility is mostly a condition where the woman is biologically incapable of contributing to conception. Infertility in either of the partners can be identified after a year of so of unsuccessful attempts of conceiving. This is a serious issue that mostly takes a toll on women emotionally. Facing social pressures and accepting the fact that they could possibly be incapable of conceiving can affect their day to day life.

Causes of infertility in women

It is difficult to determine what could be the cause for infertility in women or  female infertility. However, there are many treatments available once the cause in diagnosed. In order to get pregnant it is required that you ovulate regularly i.e. have a normal menstruation cycle. The female reproductive cycle includes the release of the mature egg from the ovary, fertilization of the egg and implantation and growth of the egg in the uterus. The cause of infertility in women could be hidden in any of these stages.

 

Ovulation Disorder
Ovulation disorder is one of the commonest infertility cause that bothers couples today. Ovulation disorders are caused because of the malfunction of the reproductive hormones in the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland or by certain problems in the ovary. Following could be some reasons to look at –

  • FSH and LH secretion These hormones secreted by the pituitary gland regulate ovulation. They are secreted each month in a specific pattern. Any disturbance in this pattern caused by excess physical or emotional stress, a very high or very low body weight, recent substantial weight gain or loss can affect the ovulation process greatly. A major indicator of this malfunction is irregular or no menstruation.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) A common endocrine disorder that affect 5-10% of women today. The major factors causing PCOS are obesity and complex changes taking place in the hypothalamus, pituitary and ovary resulting in the over production of male hormones. Major signs of PCOS are irregular or no periods, excessive growth of hair and infertility i.e. difficulty in conceiving.
  • Luteal phase defect This defect occurs when the ovary does not produce the required amounts of progesterone after ovulation. Progesterone is an important hormone playing an important part in preparing the uterine lining for the fertilized egg to be placed.
  • Premature ovarian failure This happens when your body accidently attacks the ovarian tissue, caused usually by an autoimmune response. This leads to loss of eggs in the ovary and decrease in estrogen production.

Fallopian Tube Damage
The fallopian tube carries the fertilized egg to the uterus and also is the passage for the sperms to meet the egg. Any kind of damage or blockage in the fallopian tube will make conception difficult. A fallopian tube could be damaged by inflammation of the fallopian tubes, a previous history of ectopic pregnancy wherein the fertilized egg continues to develop in the fallopian tube itself or a previous surgery of abdomen or pelvis.

Endometriosis
This is a condition when tissues that grow within the uterus implant and grow in other places. The growth of these tissues and the surgical removal of these tissues causes infertility. A major symptom for endometriosis is pelvic pain.

Cervical narrowing or blockage
This defect is also known as cervical stenosis. The reason for cervical stenosis can be inherited malformation or damage to the cervix. This results into the cervix being incapable of producing the quality mucus required for sperm mobility and fertilization. Also the cervical opening can be closed stopping the sperms from reaching the egg.

Uterine causes
Conditions like Benign polyps or tumours in the uterus can make conceiving difficult by blocking the fallopian tubes or disrupting implantation. This mostly occurs amongst women in the 30s. But facts reveal that many women with fibroids can become pregnant.

Scarring in the uterus can disrupt implantation; also some women are born with uterine abnormalities like abnormally shaped uterus. These women can face problems in conceiving or carrying on their pregnancy.

Treatment for Infertility in women

The treatment for your infertility depends on the cause of your infertility, the duration of your infertile condition, your age and your preference.  Many a times one or two therapies help women restore their fertility, but there have been cases where several types of treatment are needed before you’re able to conceive. Fertility can be restored with medication, surgery or by means of assist in reproduction with sophisticated techniques.

Medication for Infertility in women

The main treatment given to women who suffer from infertility due to lack of ovulation is through fertility drugs. These drugs regulate and induce ovulation by working like natural hormones i.e. follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).

Associated Risks
Pregnancy with twins or multiples – Taking oral medication has a very low chance of getting pregnant with multiples. However, medication through injections increases the scope for up to 15-20 %. The problems of carrying multiples are that you may be more at a risk of premature delivery, low birth weight or later development problems. The amount/ timing of medications can be altered to lower the risk of carrying multiples.

Enlarged Ovaries – the medication process can also cause a defect called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). In this case your ovaries become overstimulated in response to the medication. You may also experience abdominal pain and distention, gastrointestinal problems and shortness of breath along with enlarged ovaries. Symptoms for these can develop during while undergoing ovulation induction or during early pregnancy stages.

Surgeries – There are many surgical process that can correct help restore fertility.

Tissue Removal – Through this process the endometrial tissue or pelvic adhesions can be removed by means of a laser surgery to improve your chances of getting pregnant.

Tubal reversal surgery – The need for this is mostly carefully assessed by the doctors. After a patient has their tube tied for permanent contraception a surgery is conducted to reconnect them and curb infertility

Tubal surgeries – Laparoscopic surgery is performed to remove the remove adhesions, dilate a tube or create a new tubal opening in case of fallopian tube being blocked with fluid. This surgery is mostly successful if the blockage in the tube is closer to the ovary than to the uterus. A tubal blockage close to the uterus increases scope for ectopic pregnancy. In such cases the removal of the tubes serves useful and improves chances of pregnancy through in vitro fertilization.

Reproductive Assistance – In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – this is an effective technique of achieving pregnancy for women infertile due to blockage of both the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, cervical factor infertility and ovulation disorders. In this method the mature eggs of the woman are fertilized with the man’s sperm in a dish in a laboratory. The embryo is transferred in the uterus 3-5 days after fertilization. IVF can increase your chances of carrying if more than one embryo is transferred in the uterus. Also IVF includes daily injection of hormones.

Read our pregnancy articles to know more about infertility in women and many other issue related to pregnancy.