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Causes of Infertility in women

There are a range of issues relating to women’s health that can cause infertility. It is important to look at your history and consider any underlying problems.
couple looking sad at pregnancy test

Infertility can be caused by problems with ovulation (the monthly release of an egg from the ovaries).

Some problems stop an egg being released at all, while others prevent an egg being released during some cycles but not others.

Ovulation problems can be a result of:

  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • overactive or underactive thyroid gland can prevent ovulation
  • premature ovarian failure (the ovaries stop working before the age of 40)

 

Fibroids

Non-cancerous growths called fibroids in or around the womb can affect fertility. In some cases, they may prevent a fertilised egg attaching itself in the womb, or they may block a fallopian tube.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where small pieces of the womb lining (the endometrium) start growing in other places, such as the ovaries.

This can damage the ovaries or fallopian tubes and cause fertility problems.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female genital tract, which includes the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It’s often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). PID can damage and scar the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for an egg to reach the womb.

Medicines and drugs 

Some types of over the counter or prescribed medicines and drugs can affect your fertility. Other recreational drugs can also have an effect. Careful consideration will be needed if this is the case and you will need to be honest and open about your use of these.

These include:

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – the long-term use or a high dosage of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can make it more difficult to conceive
  • chemotherapy – medicines used for chemotherapy can sometimes cause ovarian failure, which means your ovaries will no longer be able to function properly
  • neuroleptic medicines – antipsychotic medicines, often used to treat psychosis, can sometimes cause missed periods or infertility
  • spironolactone – a type of medicine used to treat fluid retention (oedema); fertility should recover around 2 months after you stop taking spironolactone

 

Illegal drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, can seriously affect fertility and make ovulation more difficult.

Sterilisation

Some women choose to be sterilised if they do not want to have any more children. This involves blocking the fallopian tubes surgically to stop eggs to traveling to the womb. This is difficult to reverse – if you do have a sterilisation reversed, you will not necessarily be able to have a child.

Scarring from surgery

Some forms of surgery such as Pelvic surgery can damage and scar the fallopian tubes. Cervical surgery can also sometimes cause scarring or shorten the neck of the womb (the cervix).

Cervical mucus problems 

During ovulation the mucus in your cervix gets thinner making it easier for sperm to swim through it. If there’s a problem with the type and thickness of the mucus, it can make it harder to conceive.

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