Female Infertility – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: May 15, 2014 | Last Updated: Feb 7, 2019

Female Infertility

Infertility is a term use to describe the incapability of a woman to bear a child after 1 year of unprotected sex. This can also encompass mothers who are able to conceive but fail to stay pregnant. For a woman to get pregnant, the woman must release an egg (ovulation) which will travel through fallopian tubes finishing at the uterus. At this point, the egg and the sperm meet; hence, fertilization occurs. Thereafter, implantation — or the attachment of the fertilized egg to the uterine wall — takes place.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1/3 of infertility cases are caused by female infertility.

What Causes Female Infertility?

There are many factors that contribute to female infertility. One of these major variables is the age. It is worthy to note that women do not have interminable supplies of eggs. As a woman matures, her eggs decrease. Thus, her reproductive years are also diminished. At the age 30, the chances of getting pregnant drop off by 5%. This means that a woman at her 40 has greater slashed in her fertility.

The following are the principal causes of female infertility.

  • Damage to the reproductive system especially the fallopian tubes
  • Abnormal mucus production
  • Surgery
  • Abnormal anatomy of uterus
  • Presence of fibroids and polyps
  • Unexplained fertility (20% of the total female infertility case)
  • Medical condition such as endometriosis
  • Ovulation disorders (e.g delayed)

The only sign of female infertility is the inability to get pregnant after 1 year of trying to conceive.

How Female Infertility is Determined?

Several tests can be done to diagnose female infertility problems. Basically, a blood test is performed to check the hormone levels. If a mass is detected in the reproductive system particularly in the uterus, a biopsy serves as a confirmatory procedure. Meanwhile, there are two other procedures that can help spot problems in the female reproductive system:

  • Hysterosalpingography. This diagnostic test uses ultrasound to reveal and locate any obstruction in the fallopian tubes. A dye, air or saline is injected during the procedure while images of the fallopian tubes are obtained.
  • Laparoscopy. This involves the insertion of fiberoptic camera into the abdomen through a small incision. Laparoscopy detects abnormal growths in the reproductive system particularly in ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.

Can Female Infertility Be Treated?

Due to rapid technological advancement, female infertility can now be treated. The following are the treatment modalities for female infertility:

  • Laparascopy. Besides being a diagnostic tool, laparoscopy can also be a treatment option for female infertility through a small incision near the belly button where scar tissues or cysts are removed. Laparascopy is similar to hysteroscopy but the latter device is rather placed into the uterus.
  • Medication. Medical therapy is indicated to women who are diagnosed with ovulation problems. Commonly used drugs are clompiphene citrate (Clomid) and gonadotropins (Gonal) which not only induce ovulation but also enhance fertility.
  • Intrauterine insemination. In this procedure, the semen is collected and preserved in a special solution. This will be then instilled into the uterus before or at the day of estimated ovulation.
  • IVF or In vitro fertilization. In IVF, the woman is given with gonadotropins to stimulate egg development and release. The woman is monitored for the maturity of eggs which will be then collected using a needle guide probe. Together with the semen, the egg is fertilized in a culture dish. When embryo is formed, it will be returned to womb.

How to Boost Female Fertility?

Infertility is not a life-long problem, and so there are still measures that women can take to boost their fertility. Read on the following ways.

  • Keep well hydrated. Water enhances egg quality and concentration
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity improves circulation in the reproductive organs
  • Consume the fertility superfoods. These include banana, asparagus, eggs, greens and citrus fruits
  • Reduce coffee intake. Caffeine and soda can affect female fertility by slowing down egg production
  • Have sex 4 days before or at the day of ovulation. This is women’s most fertile days
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight or obesity can impinge on female fertility
  • Quit smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels and therefore, impedes egg production
  • Cut back on alcohol. While its negative impact to infertility is not exactly understood, science claims that binge alcohol drinking can reduce chances of conception
  • Manage stress. Stress is a silent threat to pregnancy
  • Steer clear from harmful chemical agents such as cleansing detergents, nail polish, dye, etc
  • Choose foods wisely. MSG, which is often found in processed foods, is linked to poor female fertility

While female infertility rates have improved over the years, the battle against infertility continues. With the advancement of medical technology, the problem on infertility in women is likely addressed. Nevertheless, high fertility rate in women boils down to proper care of oneself.

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