Causes of female infertility
Female infertility can be caused by a number of factors,
including the following:
- Damage to the fallopian tubes (which carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). This can prevent contact between the egg and the sperm. Pelvic infection, endometriosis and pelvic surgery may lead to scar formation and fallopian tube damage.
- Hormonal causes. Some women have problems with ovulation in that synchronised hormonal changes leading to the release of an egg from the ovary and the thickening of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) in preparation for the fertilised egg do not occur. These problems may be detected using basal body temperature charts, ovulation predictor kits and blood tests to detect hormone levels.
- Cervical causes. A small group of women may have a cervical condition in which the sperm cannot pass through the cervical canal. This could be due to abnormal mucus production or a prior cervical surgical procedure, in which case it could be treated with intra-uterine inseminations.
- Uterine causes. This could include an abnormal anatomy of the uterus, or the presence of polyps and fibroids.
- Unexplained infertility. In approximately 20% of couples, the cause of infertility cannot be determined through the methods of investigation that are currently available.