Causes of Female Infertility
Whether you're ready to start a family, future planning, or just curious... understanding and being in control of your fertility is really important. We want to empower women to make more informed decisions about all aspects of fertility, not just when they’re ready to start a family.
Some factors such as medical issues might be beyond your control, but your lifestyle choices can also impact your fertility.
Causes of female fertility challenges
Fertility and Age
The most common reason for female infertility is age. Studies have shown that fertility begins to decrease after the age of 35, and by the age of 40 is in significant decline.
The main explanation for age-related infertility is simply the approaching end of a woman’s reproductive life. Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, which sit in the ovaries at different stages of development and diminish in quantity and quality with age. Ovarian reserve is a measure of female fertility during the reproductive years and can be tested by hormone levels and ultrasound through our female IVF diagnostic tests.
Problems with ovulation are one of the most common causes of infertility for women. Poor egg quality, failure to ovulate through hormonal deficiency or imbalance, irregular ovulation and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are commonly encountered problems.
After a full fertility assessment, treatment can include IVF, ovulation induction or IVF with donor eggs.
Womb and Fallopian tubes
Your Fallopian tubes carry eggs from your ovaries to the womb and can be blocked or damaged, reducing the chances of eggs meeting sperm. There are a number of possible reasons.
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.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally grows in the uterus implants and grows in other places in your body and can cause scarring, which may block your fallopian tubes. Mild cases of Endometriosis can be treated with a procedure known as a laparoscopy. More severe cases however can cause more serious fertility issues.
Too many people experience the heartbreak of miscarriage. It isn’t really possible to know exactly how many miscarriages occur because sometimes a miscarriage can happen before pregnancy is confirmed. Studies indicate that miscarriage occurs in around 1 in 4 recognised pregnancies, with 85% of those happening in the first trimester (weeks 1 to 12).
In the first 12 weeks, the most common cause of miscarriage is an issue with development of the embryo.
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.
Being overweight, being seriously underweight, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol can all have a negative impact on your fertility. Read more about our top tips for improving fertility.