Common Causes of Infertility
Infertility can be one of the most devastating experiences in a person’s life. The thought of losing one’s ability to have a baby can bring hopelessness and despair to the strongest of people. Fortunately, virtually all forms of infertility can be overcome. By learning the causes, one can pinpoint the barrier and customize the treatment to achieve a successful pregnancy.
The causes are generally divided into male factors (40%), female factors (40%) and unexplained factors (20%). The barriers that limit a man’s ability to procreate usually involve factors that affect his sperm count. These are discussed under “male infertility.”
The main causes affecting a woman can be remembered best by her anatomy:
Egg factors such as disorders of ovulation and barriers related to age or the “biological clock.”
Pelvic factors such as endometriosis and adhesions.
Tubal factors such as blocked or obstructed fallopian tubes and damaged tubes like hydrosalpinges.
Uterine factors like fibroids, polyps, scarring or uterine malformations.
Cervical factors that limit the passage of sperm
Vaginal factors like bacterial or recurrent yeast infections.
The most common cause of infertility in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome, and yet it is one of the most treatable. In fact, for every cause of infertility, there is a very effective treatment designed to overcome it.
Unexplained infertility is defined as the inability to identify the cause by our standard diagnostic tests, such as a semen analysis, hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and hormone testing. There is still a reason, just not as obvious. An example is when all the tests are normal including the HSG, but the tubes do not function properly. Endometriosis is a common underlying reason for tubal dysfunction. Unexplained infertility can be frustrating because there is no direct reason, but there is a proper algorythm or treatment plan that will overcome or find the reason over time.
Recurrent pregnancy loss or miscarriages can be a heartbreaking and frustrating cause of infertility. Fortunately, there is a diagnostic and treatment plan that effectively addresses the reasons that lead to miscarriages. It is critically important to see a knowledgable physician skilled at treating these losses in order to find success. Some of the greatest advances recently in our field deal with overcoming genetic causes for repeated miscarriages.