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Infertility refers to being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant are also termed as infertile. Ovulatory disorders are one of the most common reasons why women are unable to conceive and is presen in 30% of women suffering from infertility.
- Hormonal problems: Ovulation is linked with a complex balance of hormones and any disruption in the process can hinder ovulation. The disruption includes the fact that the ovaries are not producing normal follicles in which the eggs can mature. Ovulation is rare if the eggs are immature and there are no chances of fertilization. Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common disorder responsible for infertility. Malfunction of the hypothalamus leading to failure in triggering hormonal stimulus to ovaries for egg maturation leading to immature eggs and ovarian failure. Malfunction of the pituitary gland leading to imbalance in hormonal secretion thus causing disturbance in ovulation. This can occur due to physical injury, a tumour or a chemical imbalance in the pituitary.
- Scarred ovaries: Ovulation failure can also be due to a physical damage to the ovaries. Invasive surgeries involving ovarian cysts leads to damaging or scarring of capsule of the ovary to become due to which follicles cannot mature leading to disruption of ovulation.
- Premature menopause: Early menopause or premature menopause before the normal age means that the natural supply of eggs has been depleted. This is most common in extremely athletic women with a history of low body weight and extensive exercise.
- Follicle problems: Infertility is also caused due to non-ruptured follicle syndrome in which women who produce a normal follicle, with an egg inside of it, every month but the follicle fails to rupture. This leads to disruption of ovulation as the egg remains inside the ovary.
- Others: Treating female infertility by chemotherapy is next to premature ovarian failure by loss of primordial follicles. Sexually transmitted infections are a leading cause of infertility. Tobacco smoking is detrimental to the ovaries and the amount of damage is dependent upon the amount and length of time of exposure of smoke in the environment. Nicotine in cigarettes interfere with the body’s ability to create oestrogen, a hormone that regulates ovulation. In addition, blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy also causes infertility. Infertility can also be due to physical problems with the uterus or fibroids of uterus where non-cancerous clumps of tissue and muscle on the walls of the uterus.
Women with infertility should consider making an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist—a doctor who specializes in managing infertility. Reproductive endocrinologists may also be able to help women with recurrent pregnancy loss, defined as having two or more spontaneous miscarriages.
Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps.
To get pregnant
- A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
- A man’s sperm must join with the egg along the way (fertilize).
- The fertilized egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
- The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
If you're a woman thinking about getting pregnant soon or in the future, you may improve your chances of having normal fertility if you: