What Can Cause Infertility in Women?

Woman feeling sad and confused after diagnosis of female infertility

What Can Cause Infertility in Women?

Infertility is a condition that affects approximately 1 out of every 6 couples. An infertility diagnosis is given to a couple that has been unsuccessful in attempts to get pregnant over the course of one year. When the cause is associated with the female partner, it is referred to as female infertility.

Female infertility factors contribute to approximately 50 percent of all infertility cases, and infertility in women accounts for one-third of all infertility cases.

What is Female Infertility?

Female infertility involves not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are incapable of staying pregnant may also suffer from infertility.  Nearly 10 percent of women in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Causes of Female Infertility

Getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term is not always an easy process. A woman who is facing obstacles conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term should talk with a fertility specialist about potential fertility treatments.

Let’s look at the top causes of infertility in women. Three main categories for the causes of infertility in women are:

  • Issues with ovulation (oligo-ovulation or anovulation)
  • Structural problems of the reproductive system (fibroids, polyps, Müllerian anomalies(abnormal shape to the uterus), tubal factors)
  • Unexplained infertility, which is the diagnosis for 1 in 5 infertile couples (meaning no definitive cause is identified after initial testing)

Ovulation and Infertility

Ovulation issues may be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome is considered one of the most common hormonal disorders in reproductive-aged women, affecting 1 in 10 women of childbearing age in the U.S. While the exact cause of PCOS is currently unknown, many experts think that genetics may be a factor. Typically, women with polycystic ovary syndrome struggle with infrequent or lack of ovulation and , often, evidence of increased androgen sex hormones such as testosterone (like excessive or male-pattern hair growth and acne). However, some women will have fewer outward signs of the syndrome. While there is no cure for PCOS, lifestyle changes and medications can help patients manage symptoms. A variety of fertility treatments such as ovulation induction medications can help women with PCOS conceive.

Age and Fertility

About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 30 have fertility complications. Time and biology are on your side during your 20s. At this stage, your body is ready for pregnancy. Experts say that the average woman’s fertility peaks during her early 20s, and you have the highest number of quality eggs at this stage.


With endometriosis, the tissue lining the uterus starts to grow in other places like behind the uterus, around or on the fallopian tubes, in the abdomen, in the pelvis, or the ovaries. Individuals with endometriosis may not have any symptoms or experience symptoms of chronic pelvic pain, severe menstrual cramps, painful intercourse or infertility. Endometriosis can make it difficult to get pregnant because the condition can cause blocked fallopian tubes, disrupt implantation, cause inflammation in the pelvis and perhaps impact egg quality. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) endometriosis may be found in 24-50 percent of women experiencing infertility and in more than 20 percent of those who have chronic pelvic pain.

Uterine Abnormalities

Fibroids may interfere with the implantation of the fertilized egg. Fibroids are usually noncancerous masses of muscular tissue and collagen that can develop within the wall of the uterus. Fibroids may be associated with reproductive problems depending on the number of fibroids you have in your uterus and on their size and specific location. Fibroids near the endometrial lining may cause very heavy periods and problems with an embryo implanting or pregnancy complications.

Unexplained Infertility

This can be one of the most frustrating diagnoses for women struggling with infertility, as it does not provide a clear diagnosis. According to the national infertility organization Resolve, about 1 in 5 couples who have a thorough infertility evaluation will be diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Unexplained infertility does not mean that nothing is wrong: it simply means we do not currently have diagnostic testing to identify the patient’s particular problem. Unexplained infertility also does not mean it is an untreatable condition; we have many options that successfully address unexplained infertility.

Fertility treatment isn’t about making miracles. It’s about combining the most advanced technology with expertise, science, perseverance and compassionate care. Consult with FSMG to learn more about female infertility.

You’re unique.
Your fertility plan should be too.