Conditions InDepth: Infertility in Women
by Alayne Ronnenberg, ScD
Infertility in women is a disorder of the reproductive system that prevents the body’s ability to ovulate and conceive (or carry an infant to term). A couple is considered infertile when they have not conceived after a full year of regular sexual intercourse without using contraception. Couple infertility may be due to male factors, female factors, or a combination of both.
A successful pregnancy involves many steps. First, a healthy egg must be released from a woman’s ovaries (ovulation) and travel to the fallopian tube. There, it is fertilized by a man’s sperm. If fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg then moves down the fallopian tube to the uterus. The embryo secures itself to the uterine wall. This begins the 38-40 week journey from embryo to fetus to baby. Problems can occur at anytime during this process.
Infertility affects an estimated 10% of women aged 15-44 in the United States. Age-related ability to have a successful pregnancy is well documented. Success rates begin to decline at age 35 and are severely reduced by age 40 in women.
Common causes of infertility in women include:
What are the risk factors for infertility in women?
What are the symptoms of infertility in women?
How is infertility in women diagnosed?
What are the treatments for infertility in women?
Are there screening tests for infertility in women?
How can I reduce my risk of infertility?
What questions should I ask my doctor?
What is it like to live with infertility?
Where can I get more information about infertility in women?
Diabetes and women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.or... . Accessed October 22, 2012.
Fritz MC, Speroff L. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinolgy and Infertility . Section IV: Infertility. 8th ed. New York, NY: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2011.
Infertility. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated August 23, 2012. Accessed October 22, 2012.
Infertility fact sheet. Women's Health.gov website. Available at: http://womenshealt... . Updated July 1, 2009. Accessed October 22, 2012.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Andrea Chisholm
Last Updated: 10/31/2012