Women’s Infertility

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Wanting a child is a basic need for many women. After months or years of trying to conceive without success, the unhappy couple seeks medical advice. In about 1/3 of the cases the problem is caused by the woman’s infertility. In 1/3 of the cases the male partner is the one with fertility issues.

The remaining 1/3 is a mixed bag of women’s, men’s and unknown factors. Checking for the reasons of infertility can be a long tedious process. Usually tests of fertility are first conducted using blood work and in the man, semen testing. The doctors will look at overall health, hormonal levels in both woman and man, and any evidence of infection. From there, the woman will undergo a complete physical.

Looking at the issues of irregular periods or none at all, very painful periods, pelvic inflammatory disease and having more than one miscarriage are all necessary in the detective work to find the reason for a woman’s infertility.

In most cases of the woman’s infertility, the major cause is lack of ovulation. The fallopian tubes have not released an egg to be fertilized. This can be caused by a fallopian tube blocked by infection or inflammation. The cause could also be a fallopian tube blocked by scar tissue from an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy that occurs inside the fallopian tube which requires surgical intervention).

The fallopian tube could become blocked if the woman suffers from endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the lining of the womb migrates outside the uterus). There is a home ovulation kit available at most drug stores that can provide the answer to whether ovulation is taking place. 

Other common reasons for a women’s infertility are age (about 20% of the women in the US wait until after age 35 to attempt to conceive), being over or underweight, stress, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases and tobacco smoking. For every year over age 30, a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant, and carrying a child to term decrease rapidly.

While looking at all the possible causes, a complete diet history is collected to be sure the woman is eating correctly. Research has found that eating just 4 grams of trans fats a day can increase chances of becoming infertile by 70 to 100 percent. This is the amount of trans fats in a single donut. The trans fats prevent ovulation. Instead of the label reading trans fats, it may say ‘hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated’ oils. That is the same thing. 

Other reasons for infertility can be fibroid tumors in the uterus. While benign, they can create a block to the progress of the egg to sperm. Also, the uterus may be tipped toward the back, like a limp balloon, closing off entry to the sperm. The sperm may not be strong enough to enter the egg itself. The number of sperm may be reduced due to various health problems. The mucus quality in the vagina may impede the sperm.

There are many reasons for lack of conception however a large number can be successfully treated through various medicines. Sometimes it is necessary to undergo surgery before conception is possible, as in the case of a blocked fallopian tube. 

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