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Causes of Infertility

Causes of Infertility: ArkLaTex Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Supplies Answers

At ArkLaTex Fertility and Reproductive Medicine, Dr. David T. Vandermolen hones in on one goal: maximizing a patient’s chances for conceiving a baby, despite the problems caused by infertility. His fertility clinic team commits to making the infertility diagnosis and treatment process as comfortable and straightforward as possible.

For some couples, trying to get pregnant may not go as planned.  About one out of seven couples may experience infertility issues.  Educating yourself on the causes of infertility and successful treatment options will help you feel more in control during this difficult and often stressful time.

 ArkLaTex Fertility and Reproductive Medicine provides resources to help you understand the underlying causes of infertility, and the appropriate treatment options to help you achieve your goal of becoming a parent.

Causes of Female Infertility

The most common causes of female infertility include:

  • Blocked or damage to the fallopian tube(s) The fallopian tubes carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus so damage to one or both fallopian tubes can prevent contact between the egg and sperm.
  • Endometriosis When the cells that make up the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grow outside the uterus, infertility can result.    
  • Ovulation disorders One of the most common causes of infertility, ovulation disorders encompass any issue that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs.
  • Hormonal causes Dr. Vandermolen treats hormonal causes with a whole-body approach to wellness. For example, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes the body to produce an excess of the male sex hormone androgen. Diet and weight loss alone may resolve the problem.
  • Uterine fibroids Benign tumors in the wall of the uterus are common in women in their 30s and 40s. Fibroids can interfere with the implantation of the fertilized egg.  They may also, on the rare occasion, block fallopian tubes.
  • Pelvic adhesions Scar tissue in the pelvis can impair fertility.  This scar tissue may form after a pelvic infection, appendicitis or abdominal or pelvic surgery. 
  • Early menopause The absence of menstruation and the early depletion of ovarian follicles sometimes occurs before 40. The cause is often unknown, but certain conditions associated with early menopause may include immune system diseases, radiation or chemotherapy treatment and smoking.

Other infertility causes in women include: medications, thyroid disorders, cancer and cancer treatment and medical conditions such as Cushing's disease, sickle cell disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

50/50 Causes of Infertility

The cause of infertility can involve one or both partners. Dr. Vandermolen explains that half of couples diagnosed with infertility will have female infertility causes, and half will have male infertility causes. Some couples experience a combination of male and female factors, or a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

Causes of Male Infertility

A number of issues can affect sperm count, motility or the ability to fertilize the egg.  The most common causes of male infertility include:

  • Abnormal sperm production or function Several factors can contribute to abnormal sperm production, including undescended testicles, genetic defects or repeated infections.
  • Problems with the delivery of sperm Factors that could contribute to problems with sperm delivery include premature ejaculation or painful intercourse, retrograde ejaculation, genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, or structural problems such as blockage of the part of the testicle that contains sperm (epididymis).
  • General health and lifestyle issues Obesity, poor nutrition or excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs can contribute to male infertility.
  • Environmental factors Overexposure to environmental factors such as pesticides and other chemicals can contribute to infertility in men. Other factors could include frequent exposure to heat, such as in saunas or hot tubs, which can elevate the core body temperature and impair sperm production resulting in a lower sperm count.
  • Cancer and cancer treatment Damage caused by radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer can impair sperm production. The radiation treatment directly to, or near, the testicles increase the risk of infertility.
  • Age Men over 40 may be less fertile than younger men.

Age and Infertility

The trend of waiting longer before starting a family has impacted infertility rates. Fertility begins to significantly diminish after the age of 35. Maternal age is significant because women are born with a finite number of eggs. As they age, the number and quality of the eggs diminish.  After the age of 40, 90 percent of eggs can have genetic abnormalities.

Infertility in older women is caused by diminished egg quantity and quality, decreased hormone levels to support pregnancy and an increased risk for miscarriage.

Dr. Vandermolen sees women experiencing premature menopause, or diminished ovarian reserve, as early as her 20s or 30s.

Contact us at ArkLaTex Fertility and Reproductive Medicine to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vandermolen to learn more about the causes of infertility.