FEMALE INFERTILITY CAUSES
Infertility is defined as being unable to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse (if the woman is less than 35 yrs old) or after 6 months if she is over 35.
As one of the leading infertility clinics in the Indianapolis area, Dr. McLaughlin and his experienced staff strive to thoroughly evaluate you and your partner for contributing infertility factors, then offer comprehensive, individualized infertility treatments
to help you achieve your dream of having a child. There are usually multiple causes that contribute to infertility which may include: ovulation disorders, structural and mechanical abnormalities, infection, hormonal, genetic, autoimmune, male factors and advancing age.
If you are having difficulties attaining or sustaining pregnancy, Men's and Women's Specialty Health Centers offers various fertility options.
- Tubal Factors, Including Tubal Pregnancy
A cause of infertility among women stems from damaged or diseased fallopian tubes. Fallopian tube damage might be due to sexually transmitted infections, complications from surgery, or other health factors including endometriosis. Tubal (or ectopic pregnancy) occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube rather than in the lining of the uterus.
A woman’s reproductive potential or ability to conceive declines with age. This is an increasingly more common cause of infertility as women in the United States have delayed childbearing. This declining ovarian reserve is manifested by fewer eggs maturing and poorer egg quality resulting in decreased pregnancy rates and increasing miscarriage rates.
Another cause of infertility in women is implantation failure which occurs when the fertilized embryo fails to attach to the wall of the uterus. A variety of medical issues cause implantation failure; some of these factors may include: chromosomal abnormalities, fibroids, hormonal deficiencies and immunological issues.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Untreated PID can lead to scarring of the reproductive organs causing infertility.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common endocrine disorder seen in women during the reproductive years. PCOS may account for almost half of cases of women who have infertility—in fact, as many of 1 in 20 women have PCOS.
More than 11 million Americans are affected with a thyroid disorder. 90% of the people with a thyroid disorder are women. Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include: fatigue, weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, dry skin, coarse hair, slow heart rate and brittle nails. Hypothyroidism has been associated with irregular menses and infertility. When thyroid hormone is replaced, normal menstruation and ovulation usually will resume.
An increasing body of science is finding links between the autoimmune disorder, Celiac disease, and infertility. Celiac disease, or the inability to process the gluten found in many of the foods we eat can cause a variety of gastrointestinal issues in both men and women. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of needed nutrients. Scientists are finding that those with untreated Celiac disease are more likely to have late and irregular periods, low sperm counts, premature birth and miscarriages. If you think you may have symptoms of Celiac’s disease please call us to discuss testing and treatment options. Testing should occur prior to starting a gluten-free diet.
Endometriosis is a common cause for infertility and caused by endometrial tissue implanting outside the uterus. Endometriosis is also a common cause of pelvic pain, (especially menstrual cramps), bowel changes with menses, and/or pain with intercourse. Endometrial implants can cause inflammation and scarring; thereby, blocking egg passage, fertilization or embryo implantation.
Fibroids (Myomas) are benign uterine growths made from cells of the uterus and occur in 20-25% of women. Some fibroids are as small as a pea, while others can take up most of the pelvis. Symptoms of fibroids may include heavy/frequent periods, pelvic pressure/pain, back pain, urinary/bowel changes, miscarriages and infertility. In the event of a pregnancy, fibroids can impede embryo implantation and fetal growth.
Polyps are smooth, soft, red, “finger-like” growths common in the uterus or cervical canal and may be caused by inflammation, infection, congestion of blood or response to a rise in estrogen levels. Some women with polyps may be asymptomatic, others may complain of abnormal bleeding between periods or after intercourse. Polyps are most often benign and can contribute to infertility by interfering with embryo implantation.
Recurrent pregnancy loss is defined as two or more miscarriages in the first or early second trimester. Dr. McLaughlin has found that factors such as- a septate uterus, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids or polyps are causes for miscarriage. In addition, abnormal sperm DNA may contribute up to 40% of recurrent pregnancy loss.
Autoimmune disorders may cause healthy tissue (i.e., embryo) to be detected as a foreign body and attacked preventing implantation.
Autoimmune antibodies cause abnormal blood clotting, preventing good maternal-fetal blood flow necessary for fetal growth.
Natural Killer Cells are part of the immune system. Our bodies make these cells to help prevent cancer and other diseases. High levels of these cells can interfere with pregnancy because the body detects the pregnancy as foreign.
Embryo Toxic Factor is a substance that may be secreted from your white blood cells. This substance can accumulate as a result of miscarriage and cause an immune response toward future pregnancies.
MALE INFERTILITY CAUSES
The most common causes of male infertility include: 1) abnormal sperm production, 2) abnormal sperm function; and 3) impairment in the movement of the sperm.
- Fragmented Shape of Sperm
If a high percentage of sperm is abnormally shaped or ‘fragmented’ fertility potential may be poor.
A low sperm count may be defined as a count of 10 million or fewer sperm per milliliter.
A dialated vein in the scrotum may lead to reduced sperm count and motility.
Undescended testicles are anatomically exposed to the higher internal body temperature - resulting in an alteration in sperm production.
A decrease in the production of testosterone by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
Klinefelter’s syndrome occurs when a male has two X chromosomes and one Y- resulting in low or absent sperm production and possibly low testosterone.
Infection may affect sperm motility—Mumps, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea may cause scarring and blockage of the sperm’s passage. Inflammation of the prostate, urethra and epididymis also may affect sperm motility.
Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, psychological and relationship issues can also affect fertility.
Of epididymis, ejaculatory ducts or absent vas deferens affects sperm passage.
The absence of ejaculate may occur in men with spinal cord injuries or neuropathy diseases.
The urethral opening is located on the underside of the penis, preventing sperm from getting into the vagina