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Five causes of infertility in women

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For many women, starting a family is the most exciting time in their lives. Sadly, for some, the road to motherhood is a long, uncertain one. Infertility is a more common women’s health issue than you might think. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 10 percent of women struggle to get pregnant or stay that way. Infertility is not being able to conceive after having frequent intercourse for a year. If you’re having problems getting pregnant, one of the following issues might be to blame.

Hypothyroidism

If you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland can’t make enough of some crucial hormones. In its early stages, this problem might not cause any signs. If untreated, it can lead to weight gain, heart disease, joint pain and infertility.

Having low levels of thyroid hormone can keep you from ovulating. If you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. When hypothyroidism results from an autoimmune disorder, it can also cause other pregnancy-related issues. Babies who are born to mothers with untreated hypothyroidism face higher risks for birth defects and other problems.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis makes tissue grow outside of a woman’s uterus that should be inside the uterus. It is one of the top three known causes of infertility. Misplaced endometrial tissue results in inflammation and irritation. It can keep eggs from leaving the ovaries or being fertilized by sperm. It can also scar and block a woman’s fallopian tubes. This prevents the egg and sperm from meeting.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal problem that causes cysts to grow on ovaries. PCOS can lead to missed, frequent or long periods, acne, weight gain and infertility. If you have PCOS, your ovaries can become larger than normal. They might also have follicles that surround your eggs. This can cause your ovaries to not function.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are growths in a woman’s uterus. They often form in childbearing years. Fibroids almost never turn into cancer. They can range in size from invisible to the human eye to large masses that increase the size of the uterus.

When these growths project outside of the uterus, they can cause infertility and pregnancy loss. They may also raise the risks of specific pregnancy problems such as early delivery and fetal growth restriction.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It’s usually transmitted during sex. Signs of PID include pain, cramps, nausea, chills and spotting. In addition to harming your organs, PID can cause infertility. This disease raises the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.

If you are dealing with infertility, do not lose hope. Seeing a highly trained doctor for this common women’s health issue sooner rather than later may help increase your odds of conceiving. An experienced physician at SIU Medicine can get to the root of your infertility and create a customized treatment plan based on the latest research.

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