Female infertility

Did you know that about one in every six couples has infertility issues? Female infertility is the trouble of a woman in getting pregnant even after one year of trying unprotected sex. For women above 35 years, it is for 6 months of trying. Also, if a woman repeatedly has miscarriages, it is considered as infertility. Nearly 12% of women who are 15 to 44 years of age are having difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy.

Causes

Infertility in women can be due to several causes and in some women, the cause is not known.

Ovulation disorders

The most important cause of infertility is a women’s reduced ability to produce eggs (ovulation). Either the release is not regular, or the released egg may not be healthy. Certain conditions can lead to the above problems such as:

  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • premature ovarian failure (i.e. the ovaries stop working before a woman turns 40)
  • eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • thyroid problems (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism)

Fallopian tube and womb defects

From the ovary, the eggs travel along the fallopian tubes into the womb. Fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes while the fertilized egg gets implanted in the womb and grows further. But in some women, damage can occur to the fallopian tubes or the womb impairing their functions. This damage can be due to several factors such as:

  • Cervical mucus defect which makes it difficult for the sperm to swim towards the egg
  • Scarring of the fallopian tubes and shortening of the cervix (neck of the womb) that may result from surgery
  • Endometriosis can lead to infertility due to the new growths that can block the pelvis
  • Growth of fibroids in and around the womb may prevent the implantation of the embryo in the womb leading to infertility issues
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease which is an infectious condition can damage the fallopian tubes making it nearly impossible for the egg to travel into the womb

Medicines and drugs

Some of the drugs can lead to infertility as a side effect. They include NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or aspirin), certain chemotherapeutic agents, spironolactone (to treat fluid accumulation), neuropsychiatric drugs, etc.

Certain drugs which are illegally sold can also affect your fertility, for example, marijuana and cocaine.

The factors which increase the risk of a woman in getting pregnant are:

  • Age: Infertility problems are more common in women who have crossed 30 years
  • Hormonal imbalances especially those of the thyroid (both hyper and hypothyroidism)
  • Physical problems: Problems such as excess weight or extremely low weight can affect the normal ovulation cycle
  • Medical conditions: Increased risk for infertility is seen in females with diabetes, hypertension, kidney diseases
  • Lifestyle: Alcohol and drug abuse can hinder the ovulation process and can cause endometriosis
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to the toxins in the workplace can impact fertility

Infertility itself does not cause any complications, but the treatments can lead to certain complications such as:

  • Side effects with the medications including nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, headache, hot flushes, etc.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is the excess production of eggs with drugs which can be very painful.
  • Ectopic pregnancy, i.e. the implantation or attachment of the embryo in the fallopian tubes instead of in the womb.

Female infertility is diagnosed by a thorough physical examination. Your doctor will ask about your medical history to check if there are any conditions which could have contributed to the problem.

Following this, one or more of the below-mentioned tests are performed to evaluate fertility:

Test typePurpose of the test
Urine and blood test To check if any infections are present To detect hormonal imbalances including thyroid functioning
Cervical mucus and tissue To understand if ovulation is occurring normally
Hysteroscopy To look for abnormalities in the uterus using a small telescope
Laparoscopy To view the conditions of the organs in the abdomen and check if any scars or blockages or adhesions are present
HSG X-rays in conjunction with a colored liquid are used to check if blockages are present in the fallopian tube
Ultrasound To look for the images of the ovaries and the uterus

Female infertility is treated with the below therapies, either alone or in combination with others. Most of the couples treated for infertility can have babies. Below are a list of fertility treatments:

Hormonal therapy: To address the hormonal imbalance, or short menstrual cycles, or endometriosis, hormonal therapy is provided.

Medications: Medications are available to stimulate ovulation. These are called as the fertility drugs and include clomiphene citrate, gonadotropins, letrozole, bromocriptine, etc. These drugs work similar to the luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to trigger ovulation.

Antibiotic medications may be given to treat any infections.

Surgery: Minor surgeries may be needed to remove blockages or scar tissues from the uterus, fallopian tube or pelvic area. The surgical procedures include tubal ligation reversal surgery, hysteroscopic surgery, laparoscopic surgery, etc.

In vitro fertilization is a complex procedure used to treat the problems related to conception. During IVF the mature eggs are made to fertilize with the sperm in the lab. This is called the in vitro fertilization. IVF process uses medical techniques to help the woman become pregnant.

IVF pregnancy is useful for the woman who cannot become pregnant naturally. IVF cost in India is about 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 rupees . In vitro fertilization cost differs from one place to another. Therefore, these are a few treatments to cure infertility in women.

Fertility clinic

Check for a fertility clinic near your place, do a thorough research about the clinic and get yourself diagnosed and treated.

If you are having infertility issues and want to become pregnant soon, then you need to take the below steps:

  • Quit smoking and avoid alcohol
  • Reduce stress by doing stress relieving activities of your choice
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Limit the intake of caffeine to 200-300 milligrams per day