The inability of women to conceive after a year of having unprotected sex or the inability of women to sustain pregnancy is known as infertility.
You may have reason to be concerned if:
- You’re under 30 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least one year
- You’re in your late 30s and have been trying to get pregnant for six months or longer
- Your menstrual cycles are either irregular or absent
- You have painful periods
- You have a known history of fertility problems
- You have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis
- You have had multiple miscarriages
- You have been treated for cancer with drugs and radiation
Causes of female infertility
Infertility can be present from birth (congenital) or acquired as you age. Causes may include:
- Problems with ovulation: Certain conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (ovaries secrete excessive amounts of male hormone testosterone); and hyperprolactinemia (produce high amounts of prolactin, a hormone that induces the production of breast milk), can prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs.
- Damaged fallopian tubes: Fallopian tubes carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus and any damage can affect the fertilisation of the egg. Pelvic surgeries and infections can cause formation of scar tissue that can damage your fallopian tubes.
- Abnormalities of the cervix and uterus: Abnormal mucus production in the cervix, problems with the cervical opening, abnormal shape and presence of benign tumors in the uterus are all contributing factors to infertility.
- Premature menopause: Mostly caused by a condition known as primary ovarian insufficiency, menstruation ceases before the age of 40. The exact cause is not known, though a number of treatments for cancer and abnormalities with the immune system are known to contribute.
- Adhesions: Bands of scar tissue may form in the pelvis after an infection or surgery.
- Other medical conditions: Diabetes, endometriosis, thyroid disorders, sickle cell disease or kidney diseases can affect a woman’s fertility.
- Medications: Certain medications can cause temporary infertility. Stoppage can restore fertility in most cases.
Your risk for infertility increases with age. Your risk equally increases if you smoke, consume excess alcohol or if you are overweight, obese, or underweight.
Female infertility can be confirmed using the following tests;
- Blood tests to measure exact hormone levels and confirm ovulation
- Biopsies to evaluate the inner lining of your uterus
- Ovarian reserve testing to determine the number and quality of eggs ready for ovulation
- Imaging studies including pelvic ultrasound or hysterosonography to give a detailed view of the fallopian tubes and uterus
- Hysterosalpingography; x-ray image to identify blockages in the fallopian tubes
- Endoscopy or laparoscopic evaluation to detect abnormalities in your reproductive organs
At Gynescope, we believe in tailored treatment plans for every individual journey and together, we can develop a specific treatment plan that’s right for you and your partner. Initial treatment may include;
- Fertility drugs to stimulate and regulate ovulation
- Assisted insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- Surgery to treat fibroids, intrauterine polyps or scar tissue
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) collects multiple mature eggs and fertilizes them with sperm outside the body, in the lab. Once fertilized, the embryos are implanted into the uterus of the woman within three to five days.
Other techniques used in IVF include;
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (single healthy sperm cell injected into a mature egg)
- Assisted hatching (outer covering of embryo is removed to facilitate embryo implantation)
- Donor eggs or sperm
- Gestational surrogates (when pregnancy poses high health risks or for women with a damaged or nonfunctional uterus)