Many women, who are trying to conceive for the first time, get panic if their periods continue for even three or four months. But the standard definition of infertility is unsuccessful conception after an entire year of unprotected intercourse.
Women become less fertile as they get older. A woman's fertility peaks between the ages of 22 to 26, after which it starts to decline, with this decline being accelerated after age 35.
Women trying to get pregnant, without using fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization, the success is as under (estimated)
At age 30
- 75% will have a conception ending in a live birth within one year
- 91% will have a conception ending in a live birth within four years.
At age 35
- 66% will have a conception ending in a live birth within one year
- 84% will have a conception ending in a live birth within four years.
At age 40
- 44% will have a conception ending in a live birth within one year
- 64% will have a conception ending in a live birth within four years.
Many things can affect a woman's ability to have a baby. These include such things as:
- poor diet
- athletic training
- being overweight or underweight
- tobacco smoking
- sexually transmitted diseases (STD's)
- health problems that cause hormonal changes
Some health issues also increase the risk of fertility problems. So women with the following issues should speak to their doctors as soon as possible:
- irregular periods or no menstrual periods
- very painful periods
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- more than one miscarriage
Problems are with ovulation account for most cases of infertility in women. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Ovulation problems (egg release from the ovary) accounts for approximately 20% of female infertility problems. If your ovulation is infrequent, your periods will be spaced apart by longer than a month, or they will be absent. Many factors are like:
- Hormonal Problems
These are the most common causes of anovulation. The process of ovulation depends upon a complex balance of hormones and their interactions to be successful, and any disruption in this process can hinder ovulation. There are three main sources causing this problem:
- Scarred Ovaries
Physical damage to the ovaries may result in failed ovulation. For example, extensive, invasive, or multiple surgeries, for repeated ovarian cysts may cause the capsule of the ovary to become damaged or scarred, such that follicles cannot mature properly and ovulation does not occur. Infection may also have this impact.
- Premature Menopause
This presents a rare and as of yet unexplainable cause of anovulation. Some women cease menstruation and begin menopause before normal age. It is hypothesized that their natural supply of eggs has been depleted or that the majority of cases occur in extremely athletic women with a long history of low body weight and extensive exercise. There is also a genetic possibility for this condition.
- Follicle Problems
Although currently unexplained, "unruptured follicle syndrome" occurs in women who produce a normal follicle, with an egg inside of it, every month yet the follicle fails to rupture. The egg, therefore, remains inside the ovary and proper ovulation does not occur.
Fallopian tubes Damaged:
Damage to, and scaring in, the fallopian tubes can prevent pregnancy because it stops the egg from travelling into the uterus. Fallopian-tube problems are the cause in approximately 30% of female infertility problems. Damage can be from a previous surgery, a previous ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, from endometriosis or from pelvic inflammatory disease or from a birth defect or genetic factor. Few factor are:
Caused by both bacteria and viruses and usually transmitted sexually, these infections commonly cause inflammation resulting in scarring and damage. A specific example is Hydrosalpnix, a condition in which the fallopian tube is occluded at both ends and fluid collects in the tube.
- Abdominal Diseases
The most common of these are appendicitis and colitis, causing inflammation of the abdominal cavity which can affect the fallopian tubes and lead to scarring and blockage.
- Previous Surgeries
This is an important cause of tubal disease and damage. Pelvic or abdominal surgery can result in adhesions that alter the tubes in such a way that eggs cannot travel through them.
- Ectopic Pregnancy
This is a pregnancy that occurs in the tube itself and, even if carefully and successfully overcome, may cause tubal damage and is a potentially life-threatening condition.
- Congenital Defects
In rare cases, women may be born with tubal abnormalities, usually associated with uterus irregularities.
Abnormalities in the shape or lining of the uterus account for approximately 20% of female infertility problems. Fibroid tumors or uterine polyps sometimes result in heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain or enlargement of the uterus. Scar tissue can develop within the uterine cavity as a complication of uterine infections, miscarriages, abortions, or surgical procedures such as a dilation and curettage (D & C).