Causes of infertility

If you've had regular, unprotected sex for a year without falling pregnant, then you may have a fertility problem.

Try not to worry though. Problems with conceiving are much more common than you may realise. Around one in six couples experience some difficulty in achieving a pregnancy, but the good news is that we can help almost 90% of them to achieve their dream of starting a family.


Did you know?

Around 30% of infertility is attributed to female factors, around 30% to male, 20% combined male and female and 20% is unexplained.


If it turns out that you do have a fertility problem, you have every reason to feel optimistic about the outcome - IVF science has advanced very rapidly in recent years and CARE has been at the forefront of these developments, helping to pioneer ever more effective treatments and widening the range of people who can be helped.

When you’re ready, we will be with you every step of the way,  providing you with the information and support you need. We’ll give you clear guidance on what we need to do together to achieve the best possible chance of successful treatment for you. 


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Female fertility problems


Problems with ovulation are one of the most common causes of fertility issues for women. Poor egg quality, failure to ovulate through hormonal deficiency or imbalance, irregular ovulation and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are commonly encountered problems. They are often related to age especially since egg quality is known to deteriorate quite dramatically from late thirties onward. Premature ovarian failure, when the ovaries stop working before age 40, is another reason for female infertility.
After a full assessment, treatment can include IVF, ovulation induction or IVF with donor eggs.

Womb and Fallopian tubes

Your Fallopian tubes which carry eggs from your ovaries to the womb can be blocked or damaged preventing any chance of eggs meeting sperm. The reasons include:

• scar tissue
• endometriosis
• pelvic inflammatory disease
• adhesions from an operation
• damaged tube ends
• pelvic or cervical surgery
• submucosal fibroids

If you've previously been sterilised and had the procedure reversed, remember that it will not necessarily mean that you will become fertile again.
Treatment is usually by IVF, however sometimes if the problem is a blockage, and it is very localised, then it can be possible to clear it by keyhole surgery.


The drugs involved with chemotherapy can sometimes cause ovarian failure which, sadly, can be permanent.
Advances in egg freezing of course now mean that if you have to undertake a course of chemotherapy you can take the precaution of freezing eggs in advance of your treatment.

Overall health

Being overweight, being seriously underweight, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol can all have a negative impact on your fertility.

Male fertility problems


The most common cause of infertility in men involves abnormal or insufficient sperm. Problems can arise when either not enough sperm is being produced, or the sperm is of poor quality. In this case we mean that the motility can be low, which affects the sperm's ability to ‘swim’ as vigorously as it needs to, or the sperm can be abnormally shaped. A normal sample will show 20 million sperm per millilitre at least half of which will be active.
Problems with sperm can be difficult to solve, however some success has been achieved with fertility drugs, particularly in increasing volume. Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) can also help when there is a sperm issue.

Blocked tubes

Either the tubes which store and carry your sperm from your testicles, or the vas deferens which lead from them and carry sperm immediately prior to ejaculation can be blocked. If everything else is healthy then a simple procedure to retrieve sperm may be the recommended way forward.


The testicles produce and store your sperm. Clearly, if they are damaged it will affect the quality and quantity of the sperm you produce. The damage could be caused by a wide number of events such as an infection, or testicular cancer or a testicular operation. If this is the case, it may still be possible to retrieve sperm surgically.


Sulfasalzine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease can decrease your sperm count, however the effects are only temporary and you should return to normal after your course of treatment. Long term use and abuse of anabolic steroids will reduce the number of sperm you produce and affect their motility. The drugs involved with chemotherapy can severely reduce your production of sperm, however advances in sperm freezing now mean that if you have to undertake a course of chemotherapy you can take the precaution of freezing sperm in advance of your treatment.

Next steps

When you’re ready, talk to us. We will give you the information and support you need together with clear guidance on what we need to do together to achieve the best chance of success for you.

It's simple to get started with CARE:

Book a consultation

 Book a free 1-2-1

 Speak to the team at your local clinic