Fertility in a woman decreases as the years pass by, and after the age of 35, conceiving becomes all the more difficult. There is a whole natural cycle of events a woman’s body goes through before she actually becomes pregnant. If one of the steps is missing or the cycle is interrupted, the woman cannot get pregnant. Firstly, the woman must be ovulating, then secondly, the egg must be fertilised with a sperm, then the fertilised egg must be transported along the fallopian tube to the uterus, and lastly, the fertilised egg must be implanted in the lining of the uterus, and it’s after this whole process that the woman conceives a baby.
There are many reasons that may affect the process of getting pregnant and lead to infertility in a woman.
1) Problems with ovulation:
When ovaries do not release a mature egg during each monthly cycle, it leads to infertility. Ovulation is controlled by hormones, and an imbalance of these hormones causes infertility. However, such imbalance, medically known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is a very common disorder and can be treated. Although very rarely, frequency of ovulation can get disturbed by disorders of the thyroid gland and a subsequent hormonal imbalance. It is also observed that when a woman has been taking oral contraceptive pills for some years, it takes time to regularise the hormonal cycle after discontinuing the pills. Apart from these factors, obesity and low body weight, stress, and excessive exercise may also affect the hormone levels in a woman’s body and cause temporary infertility. Premature menopause, pelvic surgery, chemotherapy, or radio therapy may also cause infertility.
2) Problems with egg transportation and fertilisation:
If one of the fallopian tubes is damaged, the egg cannot reach the uterus. The damaged tube can be a result of a sexually transmitted infection(STI) such as chlamydial infection or pelvic inflammatory diseases. Endometriosis leads to the formation of scar tissue and cysts with pelvis, which impedes passage of an egg and causes infertility.
3) Problems with implantation:
Sexually transmitted infections such a gonorrhoea damage the lining of the uterus. This prevents implantation of a fertilised egg in the uterus and cause infertility. However, STI is not the only reason for a weak or damaged lining of the uterus. Hormonal problems also contribute to an unsuccessful implantation of the egg and lead to infertility. Also, non-cancerous tumours that distort the uterus and sometimes structural abnormalities present right from the birth may make egg implantation difficult.
In the age of medical advancement, most causes of female infertility can be identified through tests. If lack of proper and regular ovulation is suspected, the woman may have to go through repeated blood tests during her periods to assess the levels of the hormone progesterone. If the results of the tests indicate a problem in ovulation, the woman may have to go through some more tests, and she may be prescribed certain medicines to regularise ovulation. When ovulation is fine, the doctor checks for any abnormalities in the fallopian tubes or in the uterus. If there is a blockage in the fallopian tubes, it may be removed by microsurgery. However, the treatment for infertility in women and its success ratio completely depend on the cause of infertility and type of the problem.