What Causes Infertility?
The causes of infertility can sometimes be difficult to diagnose and determine. In fact, one out of every five couples will experience unexplained infertility. However, there are several known factors that can cause fertility issues in women and men.
Causes of Infertility in Women
- Age – As a woman ages, the quality and quantity of her eggs diminish. This is a natural process that results in lower pregnancy rates once a woman reaches her mid-30s.
- Endometriosis – The abnormal growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, endometriosis can cause painful, irregular periods and difficulty conceiving.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the most common causes of female infertility. It is a hormonal imbalance that impedes the maturation of eggs and can result in irregular or absent periods.
- Blocked Fallopian Tubes – A woman’s fallopian tubes can become blocked for any number of reasons, including the buildup of scar tissue or fluid, endometriosis, or infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease. If the tubes are obstructed or blocked, it may be impossible for a fertilized egg to reach the uterus and implant.
- Uterine Fibroids – Benign tumors that form on or inside the uterus, uterine fibroids can lead to heavy or painful periods, infertility, and miscarriage. The most effective form of treatment is surgical removal through a procedure called a myomectomy.
- Premature Ovarian Failure – The loss of ovarian function before a woman reaches the age of 40, premature ovarian failure has several causes, including autoimmune disorders and chromosomal abnormalities.
- Congenital Uterine Anomalies - Müllerian anomalies, are congenital malformations of the uterus, meaning they occur during embryonic development. Most women with uterine abnormalities do not experience symptoms in day-to-day life.
Causes of Infertility in Men
- Low Sperm Count – Generally speaking, a low sperm count is fewer than 15 million per milliliter. A semen analysis is frequently used to determine sperm count.
- Sperm Duct Defects – Problems with sperm ducts, the tubes that carry sperm, caused by injury or illness can lead to infertility.
- Hormone Imbalances – Low testosterone levels and other hormone issues are common causes of male factor infertility.
- Azoospermia – Some men, due to genetic factors, trauma, or infection, do not produce sperm, a condition known as azoospermia. This condition is most frequently diagnosed through a semen analysis and can be treated through surgical sperm extraction procedures.