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Definition of Female Infertility

Female Infertility may be defined as the inability to conceive a child on the part of the woman even after a years time period, of having sex without any contraceptives. Interestingly, medical definition of infertility also encapsulates the inability to carry through a pregnancy to its natural conclusion resulting in miscarriages.

Approximately one in five couples has trouble conceiving a child. If a couple is unable to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse, they are said to be sub fertile.  In most cases, the couple can be helped with assisted reproductive technologies. For around one in 10 couples investigated for infertility, no cause is found. This is known as 'idiopathic infertility'.

As per reports of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, female infertility is said to affect about 5.3 million Americans, or at least 9 percent of the reproductive age group of women.

Symptoms of Female infertility

The most obvious and important symptom of female infertility is the incapacity to become pregnant, even after a repeated attempts at unprotected sex throughout the year. Some other symptoms of female infertility may be in seen in an abnormal menstrual cycle, which is either too short or too long in contrast to a normal menstrual cycle. At times however the symptoms of female infertility are hard to gauge because there are no external and obvious signs that show a problem for conceiving.

Some important signs of female infertility are;

  • Abdominal mass accumulation
  • Infections in the Genital areas
  • Pelvic infections
  • Problems in the Endocrine
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Endometriosis
  • An ovulatory cycles

Types of Female infertility

Female infertility may be classified into two general types, these being, Primary infertility and Secondary Infertility.

Primary infertility may be defined as a difficulty in conceiving in case of a couple who have not conceived a child ever before. Whereas, Secondary infertility is a case where a couple (either the father or the mother is a biological parent) has had a child before, yet is having problems in conceiving this particular time.  However, there is a third type of female infertility referred to as the ‘Unexplained Infertility’, which as the name implies is a case of infertility where medical examination does not yield to any specific cause for female infertility.

Causes of female infertility

There are many known common causes that may lead to female infertility.

Some of these common causes include –

  • Ovulatory disorders
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • fibroids
  • Uterine factors
  • Endometriosis

Apart from some of these primary causes, there are certain other causes, which might lead to female infertility also. The female reproductive system, being very delicate in nature, the slightest of problems might affect a woman’s fertility, however the good news is that in a number of case the problem can be rectified and women can conceive.  Reasons for female infertility can range from the smallest to the gravest issues like egg quality, menstrual suppression, eating disorders, being plus-sized, being Anorexic, having chronic and major health problems, besides others. 

Risk Factors of Female infertility

There are certain factors, which lead to a higher risk of being infertile in women. Some such factors may be- 

  • A history of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia may cause damage to the fallopian tube. Such STD is often contracted on having unprotected sex with different partners, which in turn may lead to female infertility.
  • Older women run a major risk when it comes to issues of conceiving.  Once a woman has crossed the age of 32, the quality and quantity of the eggs begin to deteriorate. Women above the age group of 35 run a risk of miscarriage and other complications.
  • Women who smoke are run a higher risk of female infertility. Smoking results in aging the ovaries and depletion of eggs in a premature manner, this leads to reducing the chances of a woman conceiving. Doctors advise women who go though fertility programs to quit smoking from a certain time period before the program starts. 
  • Excessive weight may be a hindrance for a woman to conceive.  Being overweight limits the chances of normal ovulation, which in turn may lead to female infertility
  • Intake of excessive alcohol on a regular basis instigates and increases chances of contracting endometriosis and ovulation disorders leading to female infertility
  • Women who are prone to having more than six cups of coffee a day may run a risk of female infertility.

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Article Last Updated: 08/26/2015