Infertility describes a person’s biological inability to contribute to conception. Infertility can also describe a woman’s inability to carry a pregnancy to full term. Reproductive endocrinologists, doctors who specialize in fertility, suggest consulting a doctor if a couple has not conceived after 12 months and the woman is under age 34, or, if the couple has not conceived after 6 months and the woman is over 35. In women over age 35, the eggs quality begins to decline, requiring more rapid attention.
Female infertility can stem from several causes. Some of these are related to a woman’s general health. Others are directly related to the reproductive system. This is the reason that the first step one should take is to have a physician check for the cause of your fertility problems.
General Health Influences on Infertility
Liver or kidney disease or thrombophilia (a problem with the blood clotting mechanism) can cause infertility and problems carrying the fetus to full term. In addition, hypothalamic and pituitary gland problems may not produce enough luteinizing hormones (LH) or follicle stimulating hormones (FSH). These hormones are absolutely necessary to support ovulation and the menstrual cycle. Many times doctors can give estrogen and progestin to make up for this hormonal deficiency, thereby circumventing the problem.
Infertility Caused within the Reproductive System
The reproductive system has sub functions, any of which can cause infertility. The ovary produces eggs to be fertilized. The oviducts (tubes) transport the eggs to the uterus (womb). The uterus nourishes and protects the egg so that if it is fertilized, it can develop into a child. The cervix is the passage between the uterus and the vagina.
Causes of infertility due to ovary disorders
The ovaries perform the first function in the reproductive cycle. They create eggs and send them to the oviducts which bring them to the uterus. The following is a list of ovary disorders which may be worth checking.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also called PCOS, is an endocrine (hormonal) disorder. It is the most common cause of infertility, occurring in about ten percent of all women. The main symptoms include irregular ovulation and/or menstruation, weight problems, and too many masculine hormones. Irregular ovulation means that often there will not be eggs to be impregnated. Menstruation problems cause an actual pregnancy not to last. While the causes of PCOS are not known, obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance often accompany PCOS. Many physicians miss this, so one should search for a physician who is experienced with this. For overweight women, weight loss can improve the condition
Anovulation is the failure to ovulate (produce eggs) in a woman who should be able to ovulate normally. This can be caused by several factors such as: hormone imbalances, certain medical drugs and recreational drugs, improper nutrition, ongoing physical illness, ongoing mental illness such as depression, prolonged physical exertion, stress, and pituitary or ovarian disfunction. Although anovutaion is a common cause of infertility, it usually treatable by reversing the causes, except for pituitary and ovarian failure.
Poor Ovarian Reserve Sometimes there are just not enough eggs in the ovaries. The eggs also get used up over the years. Other causes of poor ovarian reserve are radiation and chemotherapy, adrenal gland dysfunction, problems with the autoimmune system, and genetics. There are also cases where the reasons are cannot be determined.
This is separate from the quality of eggs, which tends to decrease with age. Nature prepares mankind to start reproduction at a young age. When women have children on an ongoing basis, the quality of the eggs is “frozen” and they remain high quality, even at later ages. However, if there is no reproduction during the early years, egg quality tends to decline.
Premature Ovarian Failure, abbreviated as POF, is the loss for ovary function before age forty. Premature ovarian failure is categorized by low levels of the estrogen hormone and high levels of follicle producing hormones (FSH). These hormonal levels indicate that the ovaries are not responding to the FSH in the bloodstream. Therefore, the ovaries do not produce estrogen. Without estrogen, fertile eggs cannot develop.
While the causes are not completely known, radiation, chemotherapy, autoimmune problems, and genetic disorders, such as Fragile X syndrome and Turners syndrome are thought to contribute to premature ovarian syndrome.
Age forty is a somewhat arbitrary number chosen for practical purposes. An age had to be set to distinguish POF from normal menopause. It can actually be anywhere from the teenage years on. However, by age forty, about one percent of women have POF, which includes menopause symptoms. The average menopause age is approximately fifty one, usually ranging from forty five to fifty five.
In actuality, about 5 to 10 percent of the women with POF do become pregnant with no treatment. Currently, the most effective strategy for dealing with POF is to use donor eggs to have children. Another strategy is to adopt children.
Luteul Phase deficiency (LPD)
Luteul phase deficiencies can be caused by abnormal follicle development or abnormal luteinization. In both of these situations, the corpus luteum in the ovary follicle does not generate enough progesterone. Normally, the corpus luteum in the ovary produces luteinizing hormone (LH). LH causes the body to produce progesterone; a hormone which causes the thickening of the blood vessels in the uteral lining. These blood vessels form a protective, nourishing network, where the fertilized egg can develop into a baby. A lack of progesterone causes the blood vessel network to weaken and drop out of the uterine, ending the pregnancy. This is similar to what happens in a normal monthly period, when there is no pregnancy.
LPD is found in 3-20% of patients who are infertile and in 5-60% of patients who experience recurrent pregnancy loss. However, data show that 6-10% of women who are fertile also have an inadequate luteal phase.
Ovarian cancer also prevents the ovaries from functioning properly.
Infertility can be caused by general health problems such as: kidney or liver disease; thrombophilia; and hypothalamic and pituitary gland deficiencies. The reproductive system consists of five organs including, the ovaries, the oviducts, the uterus, the cervix, and the vagina. We have outlined six causes of ovarian disorders, most of which can be successful treated. To prevent infertility, women could consider have children at younger ages. Fertility starts to decline at age twenty six. Around age thirty five, fertility begins to drop much more rapidly. If this is a concern seek a physicians advice immediately.