Causes of Infertility

When patients come to SpringCreek Fertility, they’re looking for answers. From the initial physician consultation through the diagnostic work-up, every avenue is explored in determining a diagnosis. Establishing a diagnosis will enable your physician to create your treatment plan, which is the first step on your path to reproductive success. While there are a multitude of possible diagnoses, the most common causes of infertility include:
Advanced Age: As a woman advances in age, many biological changes take place that work against conceiving and carrying the pregnancy to term. From age 30 to 35, there is a gradual decline in the ability to become pregnant; after age 40, there is a sharp decline.

Ectopic Pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy is any pregnancy that implants in a site other than the uterine cavity. In most cases, ectopic pregnancy occurs in a fallopian tube – a fertilized egg becomes trapped there and implants.

Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue (the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. This tissue will respond to your menstrual cycle hormones by swelling and thickening. But since it’s growing outside of the uterus, the swelled tissue does not shed like menstrual blood and becomes inflamed, forming scar tissue. Download Endometriosis Patient Handout

Fibroids: Fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or on the uterus. Fibroids can interfere with pregnancy in many ways. Those that grow on the inside of the uterine wall can cause changes in the endometrial tissue, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall. Fibroids that develop outside of the uterus can interfere with pregnancy by compressing or blocking the fallopian tubes.

Hyperprolactinemia: Hyperprolactinemia is a disorder in which your pituitary gland produces excessive amounts of the hormone prolactin, a hormone that stimulates milk production in women. It appears in small amounts in women who are not pregnant, but then in large amounts when a woman is pregnant or right after birth. Thus, women who have hyperprolactinemia have bodies that think that they are, or recently were, pregnant, causing irregular or no ovulation, resulting in infertility.

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: Hypothalamic amenorrhea is a condition in which menstruation stops for several months due to a problem involving the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, located in the brain, controls reproduction. The hypothalamus produces gonadotropin, a hormone needed for the egg to mature and for ovulation. Hypothalamic amenorrhea occurs when gonadotropin stops being produced, ceasing ovulation and menstruation.

Male Factor Infertility: In nearly 40 percent of infertility cases, the diagnosis is male factor infertility. The cause of male factor is often unknown, but some effects have been identified, including problems related to: sperm production, the anatomy or structure of the man’s reproductive organs, or the man’s immune system.

Ovulatory Disorder: Ovulatory disorders are one of the leading causes of infertility. While there are many types of ovulatory disorders, they are all exhibited by irregular or no ovulation, resulting in infertility.

Pelvic Adhesive Disease: Pelvic adhesive disease is a condition in which scar tissue binds adjacent organs to each other. If adhesions form inside or around the ends of the fallopian tubes, they may block an egg and sperm from meeting. Adhesions can block the fallopian tubes or develop on the ovaries or even inside the uterus. If adhesions form in reproductive organs, infertility will likely occur.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a disorder in which the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male hormones and develop many small cysts. This hormonal imbalance can prevent ovulation. Download PCOS Patient Handout

Premature Ovarian Failure: Premature ovarian failure is the medical term used to describe early menopause. Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 42 and 56. Premature ovarian failure is a condition in which menopause occurs before the age of 40.

Recurrent Miscarriage: Recurrent miscarriage is defined as two or more consecutive, spontaneous pregnancy losses. Recurrent miscarriages can be attributed to a variety of factors: genetic defect, abnormally –shaped uterus, fibroids, scar tissue, hormonal imbalances, and more.

Tubal Disease: Tubal disease is a disorder in which the fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged. Scar tissue, infections, and tubal ligation are some of the many causes of tubal disease.

Unexplained Infertility: Unexplained infertility is the failure to determine a cause of infertility after a thorough evaluation of both the male and female partner. Approximately 10 percent of infertility is unexplained. True unexplained infertility may be related to egg and sperm dysfunction, among other causes. These conditions are difficult to establish through conventional testing. Please do not be discouraged if you have this diagnosis. It is associated with an excellent prognosis. For best results, we suggest early diagnosis and treatment.

For more information on potential infertility diagnoses, please schedule an appointment for an initial consultation with our physician.