Female Infertlity: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Overview

Infertility is defined as the inability of a woman to get pregnant after having had frequent sex for a year or more. About 10 to 18 percent of couples struggle to get pregnant or have a successful delivery. Most couples engage in unprotected sex 2-3 times a week in order to conceive. But, when the pregnancy does not occur even after a year, and after the diagnosis, the woman is confirmed to have some problem, she should be treated or see a doctor. It is important to note that female infertility is not always the reason a woman does not get pregnant; infertility can result from problems in a man, woman or both partners. A woman should not be considered infertile without a proper medical diagnosis. To understand whether a woman is infertile or not, a proper diagnosis is of the utmost importance. Infertility is a common occurrence and increases with changes in lifestyle and habits. According to a report from the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, 10-14% of the Indian population suffers from infertility. By some estimates, this works out to about one in six couples in urban India.

Facts about female infertility:


Abnormal or irregular ovulation accounts for about 25% of all female infertility problems.
If a woman has difficulty conceiving due to body weight disorders, it is possible for her to reverse infertility by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
The risk of miscarriage and problems with conception is higher in women who smoke.
Smoking cigarettes accounts for up to 13% of female infertility cases worldwide.
Infertility affects both men and women.

Signs and Symptoms of Female Infertility:


The main symptom of infertility is the inability to get pregnant
If the menstrual cycle is too long (35 days or more) or too short (21 days or less), you have an irregular period and you frequently miss your period, it may also mean that you are not ovulating.

Causes of female infertility:


There are a number of factors that can prevent you from getting pregnant:
Fallopian tube damage: Fallopian tubes are often damaged due to scarring after endometriosis, pelvic surgery, and pelvic infections. The damage can prevent sperm from reaching the egg in the tube.
Hormonal problems: Sudden changes in hormones can also prevent you from getting pregnant.
Neck Problems: Some women have problems in their cervical canal that prevent semen from passing through.
Cloudy uterine: Uterine polyps or fibroids can often prevent a woman from getting pregnant.
Apart from these, there are around 20% of couples who face infertility for some unexplained reasons.
 

Diagnosis of female infertility:


If you are unable to conceive after regular unprotected sex for more than a year, see a doctor. To confirm infertility and help you with the best treatment, the doctor should do some tests. This can include ovulation tests, blood test, hysterosalpingography, ovarian reserve tests, hormone tests. In addition to this, the doctor will also need to do imaging tests to look for any uterine or fallopian tube disease. A laparoscopic test can also help the doctor identify endometriosis, blockages, or any other abnormalities in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or uterus. Hysterosalpingography (HSG) – This process involves imaging tests of a woman's reproductive organs. The doctor will inject saline or dye into the cervix, which will go to the fallopian tubes. This process is mainly done to check for blockages in the tube.In laparoscopy, a thin tube with a small camera is inserted through a small incision near the navel. With this, the doctor can have a view of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes and check for any abnormalities.
 
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How To Overcome Infertility Treatments Risks


With fertility treatments come many side effects. Most couples are willing to undergo these side effects in order to realize their dreams of having a child. Nonetheless some of the side effects of infertility treatments are more challenging than others.

Infertility has side effects on both partners. The more you understand these side effects, the better prepared you will be to cope with them should they occur.
 

Side Effects of Infertility Treatment


There are multiple side effects associated with the use of fertility drugs to enhance ovulation and IVF procedures. Among the more common side effects include:

Enlarged ovaries or ovary hyper stimulation.

Thinning of the uterine lining that may impede pregnancy or cause complications.

Increased risk for multiple gestations.

Various mood disorders associated with fluctuating hormone levels and infertility treatment.
Possible link to infertility treatments and certain forms of cervical cancer, though some studies supporting this link are questionable.

There are of course other side effects associated with infertility treatment. Many of these are emotional side effects that come with attempting procedures that come with no guarantees. The financial burden and associated stress associated with infertility treatment for example can be devastating for some couples. It isn't uncommon for couples to shell out thousands of dollars for infertility treatments, only to realize after several attempts they will not be able to conceive successfully.

The emotional ups and downs that come with fertility treatments are also daunting for some patients. There are no guarantees again when it comes to fertility treatments. Even if a woman does become pregnant in some cases she may still suffer a higher than average risk for pregnancy complications or miscarriage. There is also a very small body of research suggesting that children who are conceived through assisted reproductive technologies may have a slightly higher than average risk of succumbing to certain diseases, though more studies are necessary to confirm or disprove this.

Some couples get so caught up in the process of trying to conceive they forget to connect with one another. This can be harmful to an otherwise healthy and loving relationship.
 

Overcoming Infertility Treatment Risks


Fortunately there are steps you can take to minimize to burden associated with infertility treatments. It is important that couples communicate frequently with one another during the procedures and process of fertility treatments. Couples should also seek supportive counseling or other support measures to help them cope with the ups and downs associated with fertility treatments. Connecting with other couples that have experienced similar circumstances can prove extremely beneficial and rewarding for couples undergoing infertility. Most times your healthcare provider can recommend local support groups for couples undergoing infertility. There is also a wealth of support and information services available online to help couples cope with infertility.

Again in this case couples best recourse is to seek out guidance and support from other couples that have experienced similar problems.

I am a gynaecologist by profession, married and have a cute little daughter. Currently not practicing, but to satisfy the passion of service I love to help my preggy friends.