Female Infertility

If a female is unable to get pregnant is called female infertility. Physicians usually diagnose this condition if a woman does not get pregnant and has had unprotected sex for one year without a pregnancy. Fortunately, several treatment options are available to treat this condition such as medicines, surgery, and fertility treatment including in vitro fertilization (IVF).

What is Female Infertility?

A health condition in which a person is unable to get pregnant is called infertility. Physicians diagnose this condition in the following cases. For example:

  • 6 months of trying to get pregnant in a woman older than 35 years old.
  • 12 months of trying to get pregnant in a female younger than 35 years old.

The process of trying to get pregnant means that you have sexual activity without any birth control methods (such as pills, condoms, or others). In some females, infertility may be diagnosed earlier due to a disease or uterine factor infertility.

The cause of infertility can be due to both partners. Furthermore, infertility occurs more frequently due to the male reproductive system than the female’s. However, different factors can provoke infertility in a female including aging, hormone conditions, diseases, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

Types of Infertility

There are two types of infertility such as primary and secondary. For example:

  • Primary Infertility – It means that you have never been pregnant and cannot become pregnant for six months if you are older than 35 and 12 months if you are younger than 35.
  • Secondary Infertility – This type of infertility happens when you cannot get pregnant after a successful pregnancy and birth.

This health condition is considered a common disease that usually affects 10% of women or people assigned to female at birth.


One of the most common symptoms of infertility is the inability to get pregnant nonetheless having regular sex without any birth control method. In plus to that, another symptom of infertility may be the absence or irregular menstrual cycles.


In many cases, determining the exact cause of infertility can be difficult. Therefore, some couples can have unexplained infertility. Check below some possible causes of female infertility:

  • Egg count and quality problems – In some women, the egg supply can run out before it is naturally considered to occur (around age 51).
  • Ovulation problems – Commonly, different reasons are why an individual does not ovulate regularly. For example, hormonal imbalance, eating disorders, misuse of alcoholic drinks or drugs, thyroid disease, severe stress, pituitary tumors, and others.
  • Fallopian tube issues – One of the most common causes of “tubal factor” female infertility is pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID usually occurs due to untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia. Additionally, endometriosis is a health condition that can provoke scarring of fallopian tubes.
  • Uterus problems – Uterus problems include polyps, fibroids, or scarring (adhesions) in the uterus cavity. In most cases, adhesions occur after surgery (such as dilation and curettage also called D&C).

Mostly, the leading cause of female infertility is due to uterus problems in producing and releasing eggs (ovulation). This can happen due to some conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). POI is a health condition in which an extremely low egg supply makes the female’s ovaries stop functioning even before 40 years old.

Risk Factors

There are different factors that could increase your risk of infertility. For example:

  • Age (female fertility starts to decline in the 30s)
  • Hormone problems that prevent ovulation
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Obesity
  • Having underweight
  • Intense exercise
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Tumors
  • Autoimmune disorders (such as Hashimoto’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and others)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Smoking
  • A past ectopic pregnancy
  • Certain physical problems with your uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or primary ovary insufficiency (POI)
  • Misuse of street drugs or alcoholic drinks

In addition, according to research, a more common factor of infertility is aging for many couples that wait for children between their 30s and 40s. Those who are over 35 years old are at higher risk of having fertility problems due to:

  • Elevated risk of developing other health conditions.
  • An increased number of eggs have an abnormal chromosome count.
  • Decreased amount of eggs.


How do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Female Infertility?

A healthcare provider should know a complete patient’s medical history and information about:

  • Unusual discharge and vaginal bleeding
  • Past abdominal or pelvic surgeries
  • Previous uterine or vaginal infections such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Past pregnancies (including miscarriages)
  • Information about your menstrual periods (such as length, amount of bleeding, and others)

Moreover, your physician may perform some tests including pelvic ultrasound, and pelvic and physical examination. Diagnosing infertility may require other tests that will be done in a laboratory. For example:

  • Hysteroscopy – A healthcare professional inserts a hysteroscope (a small device with a camera) into your reproductive organ and through your cervix. This helps the doctor to see better inside the uterus.
  • Saline Sonohysterogram (SIS) – This test is usually done to check for polyps, fibroids, or other abnormalities in the lining of your uterus. Physicians will fill your uterus with saline, which helps to get a better view of your uterus during a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Transvaginal Ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy – This instrument called a laparoscope is used to check your abdomen and organs.
  • X-ray Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – This test involves injecting a contrast dye through your cervix and uterine cavity and then watching with X-ray the moving of dye through your fallopian tubes. HSG is used to verify if there are any blockages.
  • Blood Tests – Depending on your medical history and the condition you are checked, blood tests are done for thyroid function tests, hormone levels that are responsible for ovulation and menstruation, ovarian reserve, and others.

Discuss with your doctor for more details.


The treatment your physician will prescribe usually depends on the severity of the condition, other existing health conditions, age, and others. Check below some treatment options for female infertility:

  • Antibiotics – These medicines are helpful to treat infections of your reproductive organs.
  • Fertility Medicine – With this category of medicines, you can treat your hormonal imbalances or ovulation problems.
  • Surgery – This procedure is required when you have certain structural problems including blockage or scarring.
  • Fertility Awareness – Some people use home ovulation predictor kits and smartphone apps that help to track their menstrual cycle. These options help to identify the best time to conceive.

Additionally, some people may require special treatment options including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), adoption, and gestational surrogacy. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about these procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are possible treatment complications?

There are some complications that may occur due to medicines used to stimulate ovulation. Examples include:

  • A condition that provokes pain and swelling of the ovaries (Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS).
  • An increased chance of getting pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, and others).

What can I do to prevent infertility?

Following the steps listed below may help you to prevent infertility. For example:

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight or try to lose weight if you are high in body weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Adopt a diet rich in vegetables and fruits
  • Get enough healthy sleep (at least 7 hours per night)

In addition, it is recommended to have regular checkups with your healthcare provider once you start having sex. Your doctor can identify any potential health condition that may negatively affect your future fertility.

What is female infertility?

The inability of a woman to get pregnant during 6 months if older than 35 and 12 months if younger than 35 not using any birth control methods (including condoms, tablets, and others). For additional information, it is advised to consult with your healthcare professional.

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