Just how common is infertility? About 10 percent of American women (6.1 million) between the ages of 15 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Consider the delicate processes that must go right for pregnancy to occur:
- The woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg must travel through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
- Male sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way.
- The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
A problem during any of these steps can result in infertility.
The most common causes of infertility in women
For women, infertility is largely rooted in ovulation problems. Without normal ovulation (due to irregular or absent menstrual periods), there are no eggs to be fertilized.
Ovulation problems are often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This hormone imbalance, which can interfere with normal ovulation, is the most common cause of female infertility. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is another disruptor of regular ovulation. POI occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40, but POI is not the same as early menopause.
Other, less common causes of female fertility problems include:
- Fallopian tube blockages from pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.
- Physical problems with the uterus.
- Uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous clumps of tissue and muscle on the walls of the uterus.
Common causes of infertility in men
Men can be born with problems that affect sperm. In other cases, problems begin later in life due to illness or injury. For example, cystic fibrosis can trigger infertility in men. However, male infertility is more commonly linked to:
- A condition called varicocele, in which the veins on the testicle(s) are too large. This raises the temperature in the testicles, which affects the number or shape of the sperm.
- Producing too few sperm or none at all.
Leading edge, experienced fertility care is close to home
For more than 25 years, Reproductive Gynecology & Infertility has been at the forefront of fertility services in Ohio. While we know that millions of couples struggle to start a family, to us, you’re the only parents-to-be in the world. Our fellowship-trained, board-certified physicians tune in to your journey, creating individualized, advanced treatment plans designed to make your dreams of a baby come true. And with locations in Columbus, Akron, Canton and Youngstown, we strive to make your care as accessible as possible.