Causes of Female Infertility

In This Article:
Causes of Infertility
Causes of Female Infertility
Causes of Male Infertility

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Affecting as many as one in every ten American women, POS is the most common cause of female infertility.  Normally, within the ovary the follicles that hold the eggs release them when they mature.  In PCOS, these follicles bunch up and become cystic (lump together).  As such, they don’t release mature eggs, preventing a woman from having a regular period  or in many cases, any period at all.  Infertility is a common effect.

In general, ovulation disorders such as PCOS represent the most common infertility factor in females


Endometriosis is a painful, non-cancerous condition in which the endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, begins to grow outside of the uterus.  Typically a woman sheds the endometrium during menstruation, but in endometriosis, that tissue isn’t shed; it builds up, causing inflammation, internal bleeding and scar tissue.  As a cause of female infertility, endometriosis is sometimes but not always treatable.  An estimated 5.5 million North American women have endometriosis.


Endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease, can lead to the blockage of the fallopian tubes, which is another common cause for infertility in women.

Premature ovarian failure (POF)

Affecting hundreds of thousands of women under 40, POF is used to define when the ovaries no longer make eggs or certain hormones, which typically (but for unknown reasons, not always) inhibits a woman’s ability to get pregnant.  When it does, diagnosable POF is considered an untreatable cause of infertility.

Regularity in a woman’s monthly cycle is a solid indicator of her overall health.  As a result, irregular or missed periods can be symptomatic of POF (along with other issues), and should always be reported to one’s physician or health care provider.

Uterine Fibroids

These non-cancerous tumors, found in and around the uterus, are the most common such tumors in women of childbearing age.  Research indicates that uterine fibroids are a cause for infertility, but no one can yet say precisely why.   Painful periods, along with excess bleeding and bleeding between periods, can be symptomatic of uterine fibroids, and each year they are responsible for over 200,000 hysterectomies.

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