For a conception to occur, a woman’s ovaries must be able to release a viable egg, which then must be able to travel down the fallopian tube. The man must be able to ejaculate, and his sperm must be able to travel to the fallopian tube. The sperm and egg must unite to fertilize the egg. The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of a receptive uterus (or implant) and be nurtured by the body to allow the fetus to develop and grow until it is ready for birth.
Problems with any of these steps can lead to infertility. The cause of infertility can rest in the woman or the man, or it can be from unknown factors or a combination of factors. In some cases, environmental factors can contribute to infertility. In other cases, genetic conditions or other health problems are the main cause of infertility.
Most cases of infertility in women result from problems with ovulation. Some conditions affecting ovulation include premature ovarian failure, in which the ovaries stop functioning before natural menopause, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), in which the ovaries may not release an egg regularly or may not release a viable, healthy egg. Among women who have PCOS, even when a healthy egg is released and fertilized, the uterus may not be receptive to implantation of a fertilized egg, which results in infertility.
Other causes of infertility might include:
(1) Blocked fallopian tubes due to endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or surgery
(2) Physical problems with the uterine wall
(3) Uterine fibroids
A woman’s risk for infertility can also be affected by:
Age | Stress | Poor diet | Being overweight or underweight | Smoking, drugs and alcohol | Medication | Environmental toxins
Genetic conditions, such as being a carrier of Fragile X syndrome | Other health problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases