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Conditions InDepth: Infertility in Women

Infertility in women is not being able to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected sex. It may be due to male or female factors or both. Sometimes, the cause is in both partners or may not be known.

Pregnancy has many steps. First, a healthy egg must be released from a woman’s ovaries and travel to the fallopian tube. There, a man’s sperm fertilizes it. If fertilization happens, the fertilized egg moves down the tube to the uterus. The embryo attaches to the uterine wall. This starts the 38 to 40 week journey from embryo to fetus to baby. Female infertility is caused by any problems that happen during this process.

Female Reproductive Organs

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Common causes are:

  • Problems with ovulation—something affects the growth and release of an egg by the ovary
  • Fallopian tube blockage—present from birth or from surgery, trauma, or infection
  • Endometriosis —when tissue from the uterine lining is found outside the uterus

Evaluating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/evaluating-infertility. Accessed November 17, 2021.

Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/infertility-in-women. Accessed November 11, 2021.

Overview of infertility. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/infertility/overview-of-infertility. Accessed November 17, 2021.

Treating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/treating-infertility. Accessed November 11, 2021.

Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN  Last Updated: 11/17/2021