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.
Female Reproductive Organs
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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:
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