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Causes of Female Infertility

Infertility Caused by Hormonal Imbalances

The female menstrual cycle is a complex system, controlled by a multitude of hormonal influences.

Hormonal imbalances can lead to disturbances in oocyte maturation, loss of ovulation and insufficient development of corpora lutea (“yellow bodies”).

This can be caused by:

  • high levels of male hormones
  • extraordinarily stressful lifestyle
  • intense exercise (e.g. competitive sport)
  • eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) or sudden weight loss
  • excess weight
  • impaired thyroid function
  • tumor (rare).

Tubal Infertility

The fallopian tubes are a site for fertilization and serve as the “pathway” for fertilized eggs to reach the uterine cavity.
Tubal motility may be restricted or tubes may be completely or partially obstructed.

Causes include:

  • previous infection
  • adhesions or scar tissue from previous operations
  • previous tubal pregnancy (possible removal of one or both fallopian tubes)
  • endometriosis
  • tubal ligation or tubectomy

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is diagnosed in approximately 15% of women suffering from infertility. The endometrium (uterine lining) grows somewhere outside the uterus, e.g. in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, bladder or peritoneum.
The exact cause for endometriosis is yet unknown.

PCO (Polycystic ovary)

Endometriosis is diagnosed in approximately 15% of women suffering from infertility. The endometrium (uterine lining) grows somewhere outside the uterus, e.g. in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, bladder or peritoneum.
The exact cause for endometriosis is yet unknown.

Infertility from Immunological Factors

If the female immune system malfunctions and identifies sperm or fertilized eggs as “foreign beings,” they are “attacked”, much like a disease. Thus, egg fertilization or nidation of an embryo in the uterus is not possible. This immune system malfunction can also cause continual abortions.

Changes in the Cervix and Uterus

The path of sperm through the cervix and uterus to the fallopian tube may be hindered or completely impeded by the formation of scar tissue and blockages resulting from infection or previous operations. Congenital defects of the cervix or uterus rarely cause infertility.

Age as a Cause of the Unfulfilled Desire to Have a Child

Starting at birth, 400,000 eggs are produced over time. Yet the number of both active and inactive follicles reduces with age, as does their reaction to hormones. As a result, eggs can not mature properly and can lead to menstrual cycles without ovulation.

The “aging of eggs” is also an important issue. Aging can cause chromosomal changes, impairing egg fertilization and embryo nidation or even resulting in miscarriage.

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