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Home > Services > Pregnancy & Birth > Infertility > Infertility in Women

Infertility in Women

Watch this video about female infertility
Carrie Sopata, MD, discusses infertility in women.

Problems with ovulation or problems with fallopian tubes cause most cases of infertility in women.

Problems with Ovulation

If the egg is not released from the follicle in the ovary, you will not be able to conceive. Up to 40 percent of cases are due to this. Some factors that can cause problems are:

  • Hormonal disorders
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Ovulation disorder
  • Ovarian cysts

Problems with Fallopian Tubes

Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes can prevent an egg fertilization or hamper its travel to the uterus. Sources of damage include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Previous surgeries that have changed pelvic structures or caused scar tissue in the pelvis
  • Ectopic pregnancies
  • Birth defects

 

Fallopian Tube, Ovary, and Uterus

Female Reproductive Organs

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Other factors that increase your chance of becoming infertile include:

  • Being older than 35 years old
  • Very high or very low levels of body fat (resulting in lack of ovulation)
  • Chronic diseases, such as:
    • Diabetes
    • Lupus
    • Arthritis
    • Hypertension
    • Asthma
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Occupational exposure to:
    • High temperatures
    • Toxic substances
    • Chemicals
    • Pesticides
    • Radiation
    • Constant stress
  • History of:
    • Polycystic ovaries
    • Kidney failure
    • Cirrhosis
    • Pituitary tumors
    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Autoimmune hypothyroidism
    • Uterine fibroids
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Crohn's disease
    • Epilepsy
    • Cushing's disease
    • Sickle cell anemia
    • HIV infection
    • Kidney disease
    • Appendicitis with complications (ruptured appendix)
  • Pain medicine, antibiotics and antidepressants

Diagnostic Testing 

The following tests can determine if you are ovulating:

  • Basal body temperature — rises at ovulation and remains elevated during the second half of your cycle and throughout pregnancy; you take your temperature every day and record it on a chart
  • Blood test — to measure hormone levels
  • Endometrial biopsy — to see if ovulation is causing changes in the lining of the uterus

Your doctor can evaluate your reproductive organs using:

  • Hysterosalpingography (HSG) — an X-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes
  • Transvaginal ultrasound — a device inserted into the vagina to take a "picture" of the pelvic organs
  • Hysteroscopy — a thin device inserted through the cervix to look inside the uterus
  • Laparoscopy — a small device with a camera inserted into incisions in the abdomen

Fertility Treatments

Read about lifestyle changes you can make to increase your odds of getting pregnant.

Medication

If you do not ovulate, medications can cause ovulation. The likelihood of multiple births increases with these medications.

Surgery

Surgery can unblock fallopian tubes, repair problems or remove:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Fibroids
  • Scar tissue

Trouble Conceiving? Make an Appointment

Call 434.243.3675.

 


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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