Common Causes of Infertility
Considering the complexity of both the male and female reproductive systems, one can view conception as nothing less than miraculous. Any change in the complicated sequence of events can disrupt ovulation, conception or pregnancy. Some of the most common conditions that can contribute to infertility are described below. Some, but not all, may apply to you.
Abnormal ovulation results in irregular or absent periods. Most of the time, this is caused by a hormonal imbalance due to inefficient communication between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, which together, causes the release of hormones into the bloodstream.
Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes may interfere with the egg and sperm uniting. Blockages may also cause problems with embryo development and implantation in the uterus.
Endometriosis occurs when uterine tissue, called the endometrium, also grows in areas outside of the uterus. Although technically benign, the tissue growing in the wrong place can cause fertility problems.
There are numerous reasons as to why endometriosis develops, but it is most likely that multiple causes can contribute to the problem. This is why patients frequently have different symptoms of endometriosis, ranging from pain with menstruation or irregular cycles to almost no pain, even with advanced stages of endometriosis.
The bottom line is that endometriosis affects fertility because it can cause anatomic changes, such as pelvic adhesions and ovarian cysts/pseudo cysts, as well as altering the hormonal environment in which the egg matures and becomes fertilized. Further immunologic irregularities of endometriosis may interfere with the complex process of embryo implantation within the uterus.
Fertility levels decrease with age, especially in women. Maximum fertility for women occurs between the ages of 15 and 24. Many couples today delay starting a family until they are in their 30’s or 40’s. About one third of women who defer pregnancy until their mid-30’s may have difficulty becoming pregnant, and at least half of all women over the age of 40 may have difficulties as well.
Body Mass Index can also interfere with getting pregnant. A healthy BMI is critical to getting pregnant. We encourage our patients to be in a healthy BMI range. If you are struggling with weight loss, we can offer you resources.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
Treatment for the inability to sustain a successful pregnancy is based on the cause of the loss, if it can be determined. Sometimes the cause can be determined through testing such as thrombophilia work-ups for blotting clotting issues, uterine cavity diagnostic testing which checks for normal anatomic structure and sperm quality analysis.
Problems may be related to inadequate sperm count or abnormalities relating to volume, shape, and movement of sperm. Male infertility is commonly related to the presence of a varicocele, which are varicose veins in the scrotum that affect sperm quality and quantity. Testicular injury, undescended testicles, and hormonal imbalances may also cause problems with infertility.