Infertility in Women
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Infertility is not being able to become pregnant after a year of regular, unprotected sex.
Pregnancy happens when:
Sometimes, the cause of infertility in women is not known. In others, it may be due to:
This problem is more common in women who are at risk for any of the causes listed above. Other things that may raise the risk are:
The main problem is not becoming pregnant after a year of regular, unprotected sex.
You and your partner will both need to be seen by a doctor. The doctor will ask about past health and pregnancy attempts. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may check to see if you are ovulating. This can be done with:
Images may be needed of the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can be done with:
Surgery may be needed to view the area. This can be done with laparoscopy.
Any underlying causes will need to be treated. The goal of treatment is to improve the chances of pregnancy. Steps may include:
Women who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. It may be done to open blocked tubes, repair problems with organs, or to remove:
The cause of infertility is not always known. This means prevention steps cannot be found. Those with health issues like cancer should talk to their doctors about future fertility choices.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Sex and U—The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Evaluating infertility. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/store/products/patient-education/pamphlets/gynecologic-problems/evaluating-infertility. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/infertility-in-women. Accessed February 24, 2021.
Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Diagnostic evaluation of the infertile female: a committee opinion. Fertil Steril 2015 Jun;103(6):e44-50
Last reviewed February 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 02/24/2021