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Female Infertility: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

| 02 Jun 2020 | 1871 Views |

The term ‘Infertility’ means the lack of the ability to have a child. One is said to be infertile when they are trying to conceive for at least 12 months, having carefully timed unprotected sex and still not getting pregnant. A normal couple, with no fertility issues, is likely to conceive in the first year of trying. Additionally, some couples might conceive in the second year, but when a couple has been trying to conceive for over a year, the condition of infertility should be considered and clarified by consulting a doctor.

Female infertility has become a big challenge today. There are several factors responsible for it. Infertility is mostly self-diagnosable and has become very common these days. Over 1 million people in India report cases of infertility every year.

How does Reproduction Work?

In order to get pregnant, couples need to have unprotected sex and the male has to eject his sperm inside the female body. Inside the female body, the sperms travel up to the fallopian tube and mate with the egg then form a zygote in 3 days and get attached to the inner lining of the uterus.

Only upon the completion of this entire process, a woman gets pregnant. 95% of females become aware of their pregnancies in the first to the second month.

To conceive, you first need to understand the process of egg release inside the female body. Males can produce sperms once they hit puberty and they continue to do so their entire life but female bodies cannot do the same. Their bodies go through an entire process of maturing, releasing, and preparing to receive the egg, this cycle is called Menstrual Cycle.

Read More- What is the role of Hormones in Female Infertility?

How does Female Reproductive Organs Work?

When a baby girl is born, she is born with a set number of eggs inside her ovaries which start releasing only after she reaches puberty. The egg is released alternatively from both the fallopian tubes. 14 days before the release of the egg, the female’s uterus prepares a thick lining full of blood to attach to the embryo and start feeding it. When the uterus is ready, the eggs come down the fallopian tube to the uterus.

These 7 days are considered to be the most fertile days for a female i.e. chances of getting pregnant during this time is the maximum. If the egg is fertilized, it attaches itself to the walls of the Uterus, if not; it comes out, along with all the thick lining full of blood. It gets released from the vagina and the girl gets her period which lasts for 2 to 5 days. A female is considered to be least fertile during her period days i.e. the chance of conceiving is the lowest during this time.

This complete cycle is of 30 days and is repeated from the age of 14/15 i.e. called Menarche and goes on till 45/50 i.e. called Menopause.

A female can only get pregnant during these years, not before, not after.

Busting Common Myths

  1. Many people and communities believe that a mother gets to decide the gender of the child she carries. It is completely false. A mother cannot decide the gender of the child. It is decided by the sperm which fertilizes the egg. It does not mean that a father can determine gender.No external or internal power can determine the gender of a foetus; only the biology can do it. Beware of people giving false acquisitions, it can prove fatal to the baby and the mother.
  2. Only females face infertility issues. It is completely false. Both males and females face their own set of fertility issues.It is a common issue and can be treated with proper medication.

The Causes of Infertility in female:

Below are the female infertility causes to be taken seriously

1. Ovulation Disorders

Ovulation problems are becoming very common these days and can be caused by one or more of the following reasons:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Presence of a tumor or cyst
  • Extremely brief menstrual cycles
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Stressful Lifestyle
  • Overuse of Birth Control Pills
  • Thyroid gland issues
  • Excess weight i.e. Obesity
  • History of several abortions
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Intense workouts that cause a significant loss of body fat

2.Tubal Occlusion

Damage to the fallopian tubes or uterus can be a major reason behind infertility and is caused by one or more of the following reasons:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • A previous infection
  • A previous ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
  • Polyps in the uterus
  • Chronic medical illness
  • Endometriosis or fibroids
  • Scar tissue or adhesions
  • A birth defect
  • DES syndrome

3. Uterine Fibroids

Non-cancerous/ Cyst formation in the uterus that can develop during a woman’s childbearing years are termed as Uterine Fibroids. The cause of fibroids is not well known to date but if observed during childbearing years, it can cause infertility of problems during pregnancy. Causes of Fibroids might include a family history of fibroids, obesity, or early onset of puberty.

4. Endometrial Polyps

These are finger-like growths in the uterine cavity development from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. These abnormalities are rarely associated with a tumor, but polyps can cause infertility. Removal of polyps by the minimal surgery procedure hysteroscopy is related to a doubling of pregnancy rate. In most cases, simply removing the polyp solves infertility.

5. Advancing Maternal Age

In earlier years, people used to get married and start producing off-springs in their early years of life, but as civilization changed, modern women tend to have childbirth until their late thirties, which has unleashed the adverse effects of advanced maternal age on egg release in the female body. It is a fact that female age-related infertility is the most common cause of infertility these days. For no known reasons, as women age, egg numbers start to decrease at a rapid rate which also affects the egg quality, its genetic normality further affecting the ability to enjoy a normal pregnancy.

Symptoms of Infertility in Females

The female infertility symptoms help a woman plan the necessary treatment. Generally, infertility is self-diagnosable by the inability to conceive even after several attempts but there can be other major symptoms like

  • Heavy, Long, and/ or Painful periods
  • Experiencing pain during sex
  • Irregular Periods
  • Dark and pale period blood
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Obesity
  • And/ or Underlying medical conditions

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is suggested to visit a gynecologist even if you are not trying to get pregnant. These minor issues can cause major health problems in the years to come.

Infertility Tests

Upon consulting the doctor with the above-mentioned symptoms, he/ she might examine you and dig into your family history to see if there is any genetic tendency upon the occurrence of the symptoms or not and send samples for testing upon observation of something serious. Women unable to conceive naturally can go for the female infertility test from trusted infertility centers like India IVF Clinic popular for its best infertility treatment worldwide.

There are different tests for different areas like

1. Transvaginal ultrasound: Ultrasound is a very important tool, which helps in evaluating the structure of the uterus, tubes, and ovaries. It can detect uterine abnormalities such as distal fallopian tube occlusion fibroids and polyps, and ovarian abnormalities involving ovarian cysts

2. Laboratory testing: Upon obtaining the evaluation results of Ultrasound, your doctor may request specific blood tests. The most common of these tests involve measurements of blood levels of certain hormones that are related to ovarian function and overall egg numbers; TSH which is to assess thyroid function; and prolactin, a hormone that can affect menstrual function if up-raised.

3. Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): This test helps in the evaluation of fallopian tubal patency, scarring of the uterine cavity, and uterine filling defects such as fibroids and polyps. Many uterine and tubal abnormalities detected by the HSG can be surgically treated.
If suspected, your doctor might even ask for conducting tests on the male partner to have a proper picture of the fertility of the couple which includes testing of the semen sample.

Read More- Seek Professional Help Only to Get Fertility Tests for Women Done

Treatment of Female Infertility

Upon determining the cause of infertility, whether in the female or the male or both, adequate steps can be taken to cure it or opt for different methods for getting pregnant. Female infertility treatment has been made easy today. A female can overcome the infertility problem and enjoy the endless happiness of motherhood.

Medication: All infertility problems can be cured by taking up a course of medication and/ or undergoing minor surgery. Before getting into any medication program, thoroughly understand its pros and cons because many medications have severe side effects such as hormonal imbalance which leads to mood swings or drastic changes in blood pressure levels.

Artificial Insemination: It is a process by which sperm is washed and prepared for placement into the uterine cavity, therefore bypassing the cervix which brings a higher concentration of motile sperm closer to the tubes and ovulated egg, thus increasing the chances of pregnancy. It is done if either the sperms are weak and cannot travel up to the fallopian tubes or if the uterus kills the sperms and stop them from mating the egg or both.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): IVF is a process in which the sperm and the eggs of the parents are collected and then fertilized by sperm outside the body, in an embryology laboratory. Donor Eggs and/ or sperms can also be used if needed.

Although female infertility has become a very common problem, it can be treated by undergoing female infertility tests and following a healthy lifestyle. Leave your stress aside and book your appointment with an infertility specialist today to enjoy the bliss of motherhood!

About The Author
Dr. Richika Sahay

MBBS (Gold Medalist), DNB (Obst & Gyne), MNAMS, MRCOG (London-UK), Fellow IVF, Fellow MAS, Infertility (IVF) Specialist & Gynae Laparoscopic surgeon,[Ex AIIMS & Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi]. Read more

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