Infertility is the inability to conceive even after having regular unprotected sex for over 12 months or less, depending on age. Infertility affects one out of seven couples approximately. Female infertility cases amount to one-third of the total cases. For a woman to get pregnant, every part of the complex reproduction system has to work right.
Infertility in women involves:
- One out of the two ovaries to release a mature egg
- This egg gets picked up by the fallopian tube
- Sperm swims up the cervix to come to the egg for fertilization
- Fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube
- This fertilized egg gets embedded & grows inside the uterus
A number of other factors can disrupt the natural process at any of the above steps. Female infertility is said to be caused by one or more factors.
Causes of infertility
- Ovulation disorders prevent ovaries from releasing eggs. They are the most common reasons for women infertility.
Examples of ovulation disorders include:
- Failure to make mature eggs: ovulation is rare if eggs are not mature thus making the chances of fertility nonexistent.
- Hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that sends signals to the pituitary gland, which sends hormonal stimuli to ovaries so as to initiate egg maturation. If hypothalamus fails at triggering the process, eggs produced will remain immature.
- Malfunction of pituitary gland, which can occur if the gland has some physical injury or tumor, or even if there is a chemical imbalance in pituitary.
- Scarred ovaries may result in failed ovulation. Extensive invasive surgeries may cause scarring or damage to ovaries so that the follicles cannot mature properly & thus ovulation does not take place.
- Premature menopause: primary ovarian insufficiency in some women stops menstruation and begins menopause before the normal age. Natural supply of eggs gets depleted & results in infertility. This can also be a genetic condition for some women.
- Damaged fallopian tube, which is caused by inflamed fallopian tubes (called salpingitis). This can result from other pelvic diseases caused usually by sexually transmitted infections, endometriosis or adhesions.
- Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue implants & grows outside uterus which affects the functioning of ovaries, uterus and the fallopian tubes.
- Pelvic adhesions, scar tissues that join organs after infections of pelvis, appendicitis or other abdominal or pelvic surgeries.
Risk Factors for Infertility in Women
Additional factors that may cause infertility in women are abnormal uterus conditions like Uterine fibroids & polyps which may lead to obstruction in uterus & fallopian tubes & congenital abnormalities may lead to recurring miscarriage. Behavioral factors affect infertility too. Personal habits & life style have major effects on woman’s ability to conceive. Women who are considerably over weight or underweight may face problems getting pregnant. Cigarette smoking increases risk of miscarriage or premature birth. Alcohol consumption greatly increases chances of birth defects; high alcohol in blood levels may also cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in which, among other problems, the child grows less quickly, has facials abnormalities & troubles with the nervous system like mental retardation. Drug abuse also causes retardation & other conditions like kidney problems in babies. Occupational factors like exposure to lead are severely damaging. Repeated exposure to radiation for x-ray or chemotherapy also causes ovarian problems.
Symptoms of Infertility in Women
Infertile women may have irregular menstrual cycles. Women should consider seeing a doctor regarding infertility if they have been trying to conceive for at least a year with no success. Some of the symptoms of infertility are –
- Woman is aged 35 or above & has been trying to conceive for six months or longer.
- Irregular Menstruation or none at all
- Known Fertility Problems
- Endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- More than one miscarriage
- Cancer Treatment
- Women over the age of 40 years
How is the Cause of Female Infertility Determined?
Doctors may prescribe several tests like blood tests to check hormones & endometrial biopsy to check lining of the uterus. Other tests that may help detecting scar tissues & obstructions are laparoscopy & hysterosalpingography (HSG).
How is Female Infertility Treated?
- Laparoscopy: women who have pelvic diseases can undergo reconstruction of reproductive organs or may try conceiving through in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Hysteroscopy: a scope positioned into the uterus can remove polyps & fibroids.
- Women suffering from ovulation problems may be prescribed medications. These drugs enhance fertility by causing multiple eggs to ovulate. Metformin is another drug prescribed to women who have insulin resistance or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Intrauterine insemination is a procedure in which sperm is collected & rinsed with special solution & is then placed in uterus through a catheter.
- IVF refers to a procedure that fertilizes eggs in a culture dish & is then placed inside uterus. Women are also prescribed gonadotropins so as to enhance egg development.
- Gamete Intrafallopian Tube Transfer (GIFT) & Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) are procedures similar to IVF. These procedures involve combining sperm & egg in a laboratory & transferring them back in the woman’s body.
- Egg donation helps women with abnormal functioning ovaries but requires a normal uterus to attain pregnancy. It involves removal of eggs (oocytes) from ovary of a donor who has undergone simulation with proper use of fertility drugs. These oocytes are then placed in the recipient’s body (along with sperm) for IVF.
Medical Therapy & In Vitro Fertilization
Medical therapy & IVF can highly increase chances of fertility in women who are diagnosed with unexplained infertility issues. Infertility can be prevented if women maintain a normal body weight with moderate exercise alongside a healthy diet. Alcohol & smoking should however be avoided if women are planning to become pregnant. Psychological stress also results in problems with infertility treatments.
Affordable Infertility Treatment for Women in India
India is the destination of choice for international women seeking treatments for infertility & IVF treatments. IndianMedTrip is one of the leading medical tourism companies in India which can help you choose the right gynaecologist & the best hospital. Besides this, IndianMedTrip will guide you through the entire process, right from arranging appointments with doctors, guiding you through the Visa process & arranging accommodation as per your requirements. Experts will also be delighted to combine an exotic vacation for you & your friend for a reasonable sum so as to make your fertility treatment journey to India a memorable experience.