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9 Diseases And Conditions That Affect Female Fertility

Fertility is a surprisingly fragile thing that can be affected by a myriad of factors. Naturally, these include diseases and health conditions. Here are 9 of them that affect female fertility specifically.

Every now and then, being surprised is great, hence the name. Whether it’s an unexpected dinner treat from your friend or a surprise birthday gift from your parents, you’re sure to get a feeling of elation that’s quite difficult to replicate with something that you know is coming. On the other hand, a nasty surprise is one thing that everyone detests.

These disastrous curveballs add unnecessary stress to your day and might even have serious ramifications down the road. For couples trying to conceive, a piece of news that they absolutely do not want to hear from their gynaecologist is that either party (or worse, both) is infertile.

It’s a nasty surprise because apart from not being able to conceive, infertility often comes with other symptoms [1]. To help you stay ahead of these curveballs on your pregnancy journey, check out these 9 diseases and conditions that affect female fertility.


What defines female infertility?

Female infertility refers to a woman being unable to get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy [2]. To be precise, the cause must lie with the female partner and not the male or any other unknown reasons. Surprisingly, this is more common than you think. In the US, approximately 11% of women of reproductive age suffer from fertility issues [3].

Furthermore, the impact of age on female fertility is much larger than it is for their male counterparts. In their 30s, women are approximately half as fertile as they are in their early-20s. Additionally, their chances of conceiving decrease significantly after they’re 35 years old [4].

However, age isn’t the only factor. Diseases and health conditions contribute to female fertility too.


What diseases and conditions cause female infertility?

As you might expect, both male and female fertility can be impacted by a number of diseases and health conditions. What contributes to female infertility specifically would be the following set of 9 ailments.

1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This hormonal disorder interferes with your body’s ability to release its eggs [5]. To put it simply, ovulation can’t happen, which then renders unprotected sex moot. Fortunately, treating PCOS is relatively simple. Medication to induce ovulation is available, and a healthier diet and lifestyle will do wonders in reducing PCOS’ symptoms [6].

2. Endometriosis

This is a health condition where endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, is also found in other body areas [7]. This can cause cysts and one of endometriosis’ symptoms would be infertility [8]. Endometriosis has no cure, with a range of treatments being recommended depending on its severity. This includes surgery and progestogens (hormone treatment), amongst others [9].

3. Fallopian tube damage or blockage

This health condition is fairly self-explanatory. When the fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked, sperms cannot reach the egg and the fertilised egg can’t reach the uterus [10]. Fortunately, the fallopian tubes can be repaired via tubal reanastomosis surgery. The damaged portion will be removed and the healthy parts connected [11].

4. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)

When a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she’s 40 years old, it’s classified as POI [12]. This leads to irregular periods and reduced fertility or worse, complete infertility. To combat this disorder, hormone therapy is used [13]. This replaces the hormones that the ovaries can no longer produce and alleviates POI’s symptoms.

5. Fibroids and polyps

These refer to non-cancerous growths that can form in a woman’s uterus [14]. To be exact, fibroids are benign tumours within the uterine wall and polyps are small growths within the endometrium. These have the potential to cause infertility and your gynaecologist might recommend surgery to remove them [15].

6. Ovarian cancer

This form of cancer works the same way as other cancers, with a growth of cells multiplying and destroying healthy tissue [16]. You will definitely be infertile if your only form of treatment is to remove the uterus and ovaries [17]. However, conceiving is still possible if the cancer is nipped in the bud early and only one ovary needs to be removed.

7. Thyroid disorders

Hypothyroidism, also known as having an underactive thyroid gland, can cause infertility in females [18]. When the thyroid gland is not active, certain hormones cannot be produced in a sufficient quantity, which interferes with ovulation [19]. Fortunately, the cure is simple. Your doctor may prescribe you with a prescription of levothyroxine tablets, that are to be taken daily, to replace the thyroxine hormone [20].

8. Autoimmune disorders

This is devastating for female infertility because your thyroid gland and ovaries can be affected. Essentially, your own immune system attacks healthy cells or tissue because it believes that they are foreign or abnormal [21]. This disorder cannot be cured, but can be controlled via anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery, among other treatments [22].

9. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

STDs can wreak havoc on a female’s fertility. Take chlamydia for instance, which can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and fallopian tube infections [23]. Both of them combined can result in the fallopian tubes and uterus being permanently damaged. The best cure here would be prevention by having safe sex and attending a chlamydia screening annually.

Ways to reduce chances of infertility

First and foremost, your lifestyle plays a part in determining how fertile you are. When you’re trying to conceive, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, and cutting alcohol and cigarettes out of your life does wonders for you. And with regards to STDs, getting tested annually goes a long way in ensuring that you won’t get any nasty surprises.

To combat the effects of age, immediately consult your gynaecologist once you are unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sex [24]. You can then decide on the next course of action without delay, whether it’s using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) or fertility devices like the twoplus Fertility Sperm Guide or Applicator.

For women who have trouble conceiving because of low folate levels, consider the twoplus Fertility’s Folic Acid fertility support. Regular supplementation with folic acid boosts your probability of conceiving and every capsule in each slim and sleek 90-pill bottle packs a full 600ug of folic acid.

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In closing

There are many diseases and health conditions that can cause female infertility. Furthermore, if your diet and lifestyle are unhealthy, you run the risk of impacting your fertility negatively as well. On the bright side, each of the diseases and health conditions listed can be cured or managed. All it takes is a timely visit to your doctor or get yourself tested. 

Alternatively, a simple and convenient way for females to find out more about their fertility health would be with our Hormone Test. Find out why this is one of the most convenient ways to find out more about your fertility health by clicking the button below. 

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With vigilance and proper preventative measures, you can avoid suffering from female infertility. This is a condition that does not come with any symptoms attached for the most part, so you and your partner will need to be aware as you’re trying to conceive. To sum things up, avoid procrastinating at every step of your fertility journey!

[1] Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research, Infertility, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317
[2] Cleveland Clinic, Female Infertility, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17774-female-infertility
[3] Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health And Human Development, How Common Is Infertility?, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/infertility/conditioninfo/common
[4] Practice Committee Of The American Society For Reproductive Medicine In Collaboration With The Society For Reproductive Endocrinology And Infertility. (2013). Optimising Natural Fertility: A Committee Opinion. Fertility And Sterility, 100(3), 631–637.
[5] Today’s Parent, 5 Health Problems That Could Be Affecting Your Fertility, https://www.todaysparent.com/getting-pregnant/trying-to-conceive/health-problems-that-could-be-affecting-your-fertility/
[6] John Hopkins Medicine, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos
[7] National University Health System, Endometriosis, https://www.nuh.com.sg/Health-Information/Diseases-Conditions/Pages/Endometriosis.aspx
[8] Brigham And Women's Hospital, Endometriosis And Fertility, https://www.brighamandwomens.org/obgyn/infertility-reproductive-surgery/endometriosis/endometriosis-and-fertility
[9] Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Endometriosis, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354661
[10] Healthline, What You Should Know About Blocked Fallopian Tubes, https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/blocked-fallopian-tubes
[11] Government Of Alberta, Fallopian Tube Procedures For Infertility, https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=hw203637
[12] U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, https://medlineplus.gov/primaryovarianinsufficiency.html
[13] Cleveland Clinic, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17963-primary-ovarian-insufficiency#management-and-treatment
[14] Progyny, Inc., Understanding Uterine Fibroids And Polyps, https://progyny.com/education/female-infertility/understanding-uterine-fibroids-polyps/
[15] Moreland OB-GYN Associates, Fibroids vs. Polyps: Overview, Symptoms And Treatments For Women, https://www.morelandobgyn.com/blog/fibroids-vs-polyps
[16] Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research, Ovarian Cancer, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20375941
[17] University Of Oxford, Ovarian Cancer, https://healthtalk.org/ovarian-cancer/fertility
[18] Healthline Media, Hypothyroidism: A Woman’s Guide to Fertility and Pregnancy, https://www.healthline.com/health/hypothyroidism/womans-guide-to-fertility-and-pregnancy
[19] Mayo Foundation For Medical Education And Research, Hypothyroidism And Infertility: Any Connection?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/female-infertility/expert-answers/hypothyroidism-and-infertility/faq-20058311
[20] National Health Service, Treatment - Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism), https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/underactive-thyroid-hypothyroidism/treatment/
[21] Texas Fertility Centre, Autoimmune Diseases And Infertility, https://www.fertilitysanantonio.com/female-infertility/autoimmune-diseases-infertility/
[22] Department Of Health, State Government Of Victoria, Australia, Autoimmune Disorders, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/autoimmune-disorders#treatment-for-autoimmune-disorders
[23] Centres For Disease Control And Prevention, STDs & Infertility, https://www.cdc.gov/std/infertility/default.htm
[24] The Regents Of The University Of California, Reducing Your Risk Of Infertility, https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/reducing-your-risk-of-infertility