Common causes of fertility problems in women

photo of gynecologist sitting near medical equipment

Roughly 1 in 8 couples today struggle with infertility issues. For about 1/3 of these cases, the primary cause of trouble conceiving lies with the female partner. What are some of the most prevalent diagnoses impacting a woman’s fertility, and what can be done?

Ovulation Disorders

Failing to ovulate prevents an egg from being available for fertilization. Common types of ovulation disorders include:

  • PCOS – Polycycstic ovarian syndrome, characterized by excess androgen hormones and irregular ovulation. Affects up to 10% of women.
  • POI – Premature ovarian insufficiency refers to menopause occurring before age 40 due to low ovarian reserve. Impacts 1% of women.
  • Hypothalamic dysfunction – Issues with the hypothalamus gland disrupting normal signaling of ovulation hormones.
  • Hyperprolactinemia – High levels of the hormone prolactin suppressing normal ovulation.

Treatments like fertility drugs, weight loss, or supplements can often regulate ovulation in these cases. Surrogacy or egg donation may assist when ovarian function is poor.

Uterine or Endometrial Conditions

Structural abnormalities or growths in the uterus can affect implantation or embryo development:

  • Fibroids – Benign tumors that may distort the uterine cavity.
  • Polyps – Abnormal tissue growths that can block fallopian tubes.
  • Intrauterine adhesions – Scarring from procedures that stick walls together.
  • Septum – A wall dividing the uterine cavity into two sections.
  • Unicornuate uterus – Half of a uterine cavity formed due to abnormal development.

Depending on severity, uterine issues may be treated surgically or via IVF and assisted implantation techniques.


When uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, it can cause inflammation, pain, and fertility problems. Endometriosis impacts up to 10% of women. Removing lesions surgically and IVF assistance may be warranted.

Tubal Factor Infertility

Blocked, scarred, or damaged fallopian tubes prevent the egg and sperm from uniting. This accounts for about 25-35% of female infertility cases. Causes include:

  • Pelvic infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Past ectopic pregnancy
  • History of abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Endometriosis
  • Birth defects

Options include surgically opening blocked tubes, IVF to bypass the tubes, or surgical procedures to remove damaged tubes.

Unexplained Infertility

In around 8-12% of infertility cases, no identifiable cause is found after comprehensive testing and analysis. The woman ovulates normally and has no structural issues, yet conception fails repeatedly. Continued attempts or IVF treatments may eventually succeed in these unexplained scenarios.

While female-factor infertility has numerous possible causes, the good news is that advanced treatments and assisted reproductive technologies now offer more options for achieving pregnancy regardless of diagnosis. Working with a fertility specialist helps navigate the best path for your unique situation. There is hope!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *