Infertility Causes and Treatments

National Infertility Awareness Week is recognized at the end of each April. This movement draws attention to understanding infertility and the impact it has on people, especially those who want to start or grow a family. Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant after one year or longer of unprotected sex. Several factors might cause infertility, which can affect both men and women. Infertility is not permanent. Learn more about the innovative treatments that can help combat infertility. 

What causes infertility? 

According to the CDC, about 19% of married women between the ages 15 and 49 with no prior births are unsuccessful in becoming pregnant after at least one year of trying. A variety of factors have been linked to infertility in either the male or female reproductive system, including lifestyle and health-related factors. Lifestyle factors that might affect infertility include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity. Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants can also have a detrimental effect on fertility. In some cases, there is no explanation related to what causes someone to experience infertility.  

Possible causes of infertility in the female reproductive system include:

  • Tubal disorders like blocked fallopian tubes.

  • Uterine disorders such as endometriosis, septate uterus, or fibroids.

  • Disorders of the ovaries, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other follicular disorders. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women.

  • Endocrine system disorders can cause imbalances in reproductive hormones.

  • Some cancers like ovarian, endometrial and breast cancers are associated with infertility in women

  • Diminished ovarian reserve

  • Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea

  • Premature ovarian insufficiency

  • Menopause

Reasons for infertility in the male reproductive system might include:

  • Blockages in the reproductive tract can cause dysfunctionalities in the ejection of semen.

  • Hormonal disorders that might cause abnormalities in hormones produced by the pituitary gland, such as pituitary or testicular cancers.    

  • Testicular failure to produce sperm.

  • Abnormal sperm function and quality.

  • Genetic disorders

Infertility treatment options 

Treatment options for infertility include medicine, surgery, intrauterine insemination, or assisted reproductive technology. If you’re experiencing infertility, consult your OB/GYN specialist to discuss your treatment options. Treatment recommendations are often based on factors including what might be causing infertility, duration of infertility, age of the person experiencing infertility, or treatment preference based on treatment success rates, risks, and benefits.

  • Ovulation induction

  • intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment

  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

  • fertility preservation

  • Genetic Carrier Screening

  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)

  • Gestational Carrier (Surrogacy) Program

  • Donor Egg Treatment


CDC: Reproductive Health: Infertility FAQs

World Health Organization: Infertility

NIH: Infertility as a cancer risk factor - a review

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