Most cases of female infertility are caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female infertility. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance problem that can interfere with normal ovulation. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is another cause of ovulation problems. POI occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40. POI is not the same as early menopause.
Less common causes of fertility problems in woman are;
- Blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy
- Physical problems with the uterus
- Uterine fibroids which are non-cancerous clumps of tissues and muscle on the walls of the uterus
Many things can change a woman’s ability to have a baby. These include:
- Excess alcohol use
- Poor diet
- Athletic training
- Being overweight and underweight
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Healthy problems that cause hormonal changes, such as PCOS and POI
How does age affect your ability to have children?
Many women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children, so age is a growing cause of fertility problems. Aging decreases a woman’s chances of having a baby in the following ways:
- Her ovaries become less able to release eggs
- She has a smaller number of eggs left
- Her eggs are not as healthy
- She is more likely to have health conditions that can cause fertility problems
- She is more likely to miscarry
Most experts suggest that women under the age of 35 actively try to get pregnant for at least 1 year before they call their doctor. Women 35 or older should see their doctor after 6 months of trying. A woman’s chance of having a baby decreases rapidly every year after the age of 30.
Some health problems also increase the risk of infertility. Women should talk to their doctors if they have:
- Irregular periods or not menstrual periods
- Very painful periods
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- More than one miscarriage
It is a good idea for any woman to talk to a doctor before trying to get pregnant. Doctors can help you get your body ready for a healthy baby. They can also answer questions on fertility and give tips on conceiving. For more information, see Power Your Life.