This article is Medically Approved ✓ by Dr. Edward Salko
Getting pregnant isn’t always easy as it seems. There are many female infertility causes that make it difficult to pinpoint why getting pregnant may be harder for some women than others.
In some cases, women might find themselves anxious about not being able to conceive, despite taking all measures advised by their obstetrician.
Although success stories about couples who finally conceive after a long time are heartwarming, it’s important to understand that there’s a guided science behind such achievement.
And it’s a widespread problem because around 6.1 million American women struggle with getting pregnant or staying pregnant. If you’re having trouble conceiving, it’s important to check your fertility with female infertility tests.
There are multiple infertility causes among women. The good news is that the earlier a condition is diagnosed, the sooner you can get immediate treatment and resolve the problem.
Types of Infertility That Affect Women
Female infertility can be classified into two groups:
- Primary: A woman never experiences pregnancy, even after a year of actively trying to conceive.
- Secondary: A woman who successfully became pregnant at least once fails to get pregnant again.
Signs and Symptoms of Female Infertility
Most women don’t find out about their fertility issues until they start trying to get pregnant. But there are subtle signs and symptoms indicating that there may be something wrong in the reproductive system. These are the most common:
1. Irregular Periods
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. But there are women who experience shorter or longer cycles. Some get 21 days, others have a 35-day cycle. It’s clearly normal for women to experience varying cycles.
However, it becomes an issue if your menstrual cycle changes month after month that you’re not able to keep track of your period. Likewise, it also raises an alarm if you often miss your period for too long after experiencing years of the regular menstrual cycle.
2. Painful Periods
Cramps (dysmenorrhea) are often an unpleasant part of menstruation.
While it’s perfectly normal to experience pain because of uterine contraction, intolerable pain that disrupts your regular functions is a red flag. It could suggest conditions such as endometriosis.
3. Heavier or Lighter Periods
A period that’s too light or too heavy than normal can be a cause of concern if it happens over several months. Some women typically experience lighter flow or occasional absence of bleeding, especially if they’re using birth control. But if it becomes consistent, even without your usual contraceptives, it’s time to see your gynecologist — even more so when you experience constant heavy bleeding.
4. Painful Intercourse
There can be occasions when sexual intercourse is less pleasurable for women. But if sex is borderline agonizing, it’s simply not normal at all. Painful sex can indicate reproductive conditions such as sexually transmitted diseases, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, endometriosis, and other diseases.
Diseases Linked to Female Infertility
Factors such as age, stress, weight problems, exposure to toxins, and alcohol or drug use affect fertility. These factors either create damages in the female reproductive organs such as the uterus and fallopian tube or impacts the production of viable egg cells.
In the same way, there are specific medical conditions or diseases that can affect fertility such as the following.
Endometriosis is a condition characterized by the growth of tissue outside the uterus. The tissue is similar to that of the endometrium or uterine lining. It causes pain, inflammation, adhesions, and scar tissues that can alter the pelvic structure.
Although many women diagnosed with endometriosis experience dysmenorrhea and pelvic pain, 20% to 25% of these patients are asymptomatic.
A common result of endometriosis is infertility, but there are therapeutic approaches that can effectively manage and treat this condition.
2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Untreated STDs can cause more than just discomfort. They can lead to infertility and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Two STDs associated with female infertility are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Both diseases can cause damage to the fallopian tubes and uterus, ultimately leading to infertility.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there are around 2.86 million cases of chlamydia and 820,000 cases of gonorrhea yearly in the US. Both are preventable and can be cured before they cause permanent damage. But because they can be asymptomatic, women often don’t find out about the condition if they don’t get tested for STDs regularly.
3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can be signaled by symptoms such as pain in the pelvic area or lower abdomen, unusual vaginal discharge, painful intercourse and urination, fever, and chills.
PID is often linked to an infection contracted through sex or an imbalance in the number of healthy bacteria in the vagina. It accounts for 25% to 35% of female infertility causes among American women.
If left untreated, PID grows scar tissue in the fallopian tube, creating a blockage. This prevents fertilization of the egg, causing complications with infertility and conception.
4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Women diagnosed with PCOS fail to develop or release a mature egg cell during ovulation. Without the presence of the egg cell, fertilization can’t happen.
Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, weight gain, growth of skin tags, excessive hair, and acne. If diagnosed, PCOS can be treated and fertility can be improved.
Lab Tests for Female Infertility
Dealing with female infertility can be a daunting experience. But it’s comforting to know that hope is not entirely lost if you take action early. Planning to have a baby in the near or far future means taking control of your health and wellness.
A crucial step in this endeavor is getting tested for diseases that can harm your fertility, especially as most of them appear to be symptomatic. If you aren’t sure where to start, a good place is Personalabs’ female infertility profile test.
You’ll be able to find out which female infertility causes might be the one in your case, and you can follow up with a telehealth appointment with one of our physicians.