Causes of Female Infertility

When you and your partner have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant, at some point you’ve you’ve wondered what went wrong. There may be several factors leading to your inability to become pregnant. Here are some issues that you may consider asking your OB-GYN about.

Failure to Ovulate (Anovulation)

Disorders in ovulation are considered among the most common reasons why women fail to conceive. These can be categorized according to their underlying causes:

  1. Hormonal problems. These are the most common causes of anovulation. The process of ovulation depends on the successful interactions between hormones, and any disruption in their balance can make ovulation difficult. Among such problems are the following:
    • Failure to produce mature ova: This means that the ovaries are unable to produce normal follicles where the eggs can mature. If the ova are not mature, then there is no ovulation. This is seen in diseases such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, where there is a reduced production of FSH, and normal or increased levels of LH, estrogen and testosterone.
    • Malfunction of the hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is responsible for triggering the pituitary gland to send FSH and LH to the ovaries to help the ova mature. Without the hypothalamus regulating this process, the maturation process is stunted.
    • Malfunction of the pituitary gland: the pituitary gland is the “middle man” in the hormonal cascade between the hypothalamus and the ovaries. The failure of the pituitary gland can be due to a chemical imbalance, pituitary tumor, or injury.
  2. Scarred Ovaries. Ovaries are susceptible to physical damage, especially when the patient has undergone surgeries or has suffered infections. Also, ovarian cysts may lead to scarring, which means that the follicles cannot reach maturity.
  3. Follicle Problems and Premature Menopause. These are rare disorders that have been documented as possible causes for anovulation.

Malfunctioning Fallopian Tubes

Fallopian tube disorders account for 25% of infertility cases. Here are some important causes of tubal damage:

  1. Infection. Sexually transmitted diseases can ascend within the female reproductive tract and into the fallopian tube. This leads to scarring or worse—hydrosalpinx is a complication of a fallopian tube infection when the tube itself is clogged with fluid.
  2. Abdominal diseases and previous surgeries. Illnesses of any organ within the pelvic or abdominal cavity can affect the fallopian tube by proximity. Surgeries can often lead to postoperative adhesions, which can cause the fallopian tube to adhere to other surrounding tissues, thus affecting the path that the ova must travel.
  3. Ectopic Pregnancy. Sometimes the fertilized ovum develops within the fallopian tube without ever reaching the uterus, causing tubal damage. This requires immediate surgical intervention.


This is a condition in which cells that form the lining of the uterus grow and develop outside the uterine cavity. This development is influenced by changes in hormonal activity, and affects 10% of women.

Additional Factors

Female infertility can also be caused by uterine disorders, and abnormalities in the cervical mucus. Both of these problems can be traced to hormonal imbalances.

There are several problems that can adversely affect female fertility, however you can still have a baby. IVF treatment has improved over the years, bringing plenty of hope for couples struggling to become pregnant.