What can cause infertility in a woman

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The main causes of infertility in a woman are:

She has scarring in her tubes or inside her womb. Scarring in the tube can prevent the egg from moving through the tube, or the sperm from swimming to the egg. Scarring in the womb can prevent the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the womb. Sometimes a woman gets scarring but does not know it because she does not feel ill. But years later she learns she is infertile.

Scarring can be caused by:

  • an infection from an untreated STI that goes up into the womb or tubes (pelvic inflammatory disease or PID)
  • unsafe abortion or problems in childbirth that caused damage or infection in the womb
  • unclean conditions when an IUD is put in that caused an infection
  • problems from an operation of the vagina, womb, tubes, or ovaries

She does not produce an egg (no ovulation). This can be because the body does not make enough of the needed hormones at the right time. If her monthly bleedings are less than 25 days apart, or more than 35 days apart, she may have a problem with ovulation. Sometimes a woman does not produce eggs if she loses weight very quickly, or if she is too fat.

She has growths in her womb (fibroids). Fibroids can prevent conception or make it difficult to carry the pregnancy.

Illnesses such as HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis, and malaria can also make a woman less fertile.

Family planning methods are often blamed for infertility. But family planning methods (other than sterilization) do not cause infertility except in some cases when an IUD has not been put in correctly and causes an infection in the womb or tubes.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en011204