Causes of Infertility
When patients come to Shady Grove Fertility, they’re looking for answers. From the initial physician consultation through the infertility work-up, we explore every avenue to efficiently and effectively determine a diagnosis. Establishing a diagnosis will enable your physician to advise you on the best treatment plan, which is the first step on your path to reproductive success. While there are a multitude of diagnoses, we will outline those most commonly seen in this section.
Common causes of infertility
Causes of female infertility
Female infertility accounts for about half of the cases of infertility and can have many potential causes but predominantly fall into four main categories:
- Problems with the uterus, Fallopian tubes, or ovaries
- Irregular or no ovulation
- Hormonal imbalances
- A person’s age, which affects ovarian reserve
Learn more about female infertility diagnoses:
People in the late 30s and 40s are considered to be of advanced maternal age, while conception is still possible it can be difficult to achieve without the assistance of fertility treatment.
1 in 80 pregnancies is considered to be ectopic pregnancies, a phenomenon that occurs when a pregnancy is established outside of the uterus such as in the Fallopian tubes.
Endometriosis is a common problem that occurs when lining from the uterus works its way into other parts of the body including the abdomen and bowels.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea is a condition in which menstruation stops for several months due to a problem involving the hypothalamus.
Hyperprolactinemia is a disorder in which the pituitary gland produces excessive amounts of the hormone prolactin, which stimulates milk production.
There are many reasons why a person may not ovulate regularly, many of which are treatable through lifestyle changes or fertility treatment.
Commonly caused by a history of infection, endometriosis, or surgery, pelvic adhesive disease occurs when scar tissue binds adjacent organs to each other.
PCOS is the most common ovulatory disorder representing 85% of diagnosed all ovulatory disorders. Conception can occur with lifestyle modifications and fertility treatment.
Premature ovarian failure is the medical term used to describe the early onset of menopause, generally occurring before the age of 40.
For some people pregnancy is not a problem, rather maintaining it is a challenge. Recurrent miscarriage is defined as 2 or more consecutive, spontaneous pregnancy losses.
Tubal disease is a disorder in which the Fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged. Usually caused by a history of infection, surgery, or endometriosis.
Fibroids are common and usually benign muscle tumors found in the wall of the uterus that can impact the ability to conceive.
Causes of Male Infertility
Male factor infertility accounts for up to half of all causes of infertility. However, when presented with an infertility issue such as a low sperm count (oligospermia), no sperm count (azoospermia), or decreased sperm motility (asthenospermia), a reproductive endocrinologist and reproductive urologists are often able to define several potential points of intervention.
Male factor problems essentially fall into one of two categories: productive or obstructive. Problems with sperm production can stem from congenital problems with the testicle, hormone-related issues, varicose veins, environmental exposures, or cancer. Obstructive issues impair the transport of sperm to the semen, typically caused by prior surgery, infection, or congenital abnormalities.
We often focus treatment on either reconstruction of the transport system or retrieval of sperm for use in assisted reproduction.
Learn more about male factor infertility diagnoses:
The function and quantity of sperm greatly impact male fertility. Learn about the causes of sperm disorders, testing, and treatment.
Sometimes, sperm is not able to travel which can make it difficult to conceive. Obstruction can be caused by a number of reasons and is often treatable.
Sperm can be weakened by natural antibodies which hinder your sperm from reaching the egg. Learn how medications and different treatments can help.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant — despite engaging in regular unprotected intercourse — following the birth of one or more biological children who were born without the aid of fertility treatment or medications.
Unexplained infertility is the failure to determine a cause of infertility after a thorough evaluation of both the male and female partners. Approximately 10 percent of infertility is unexplained.