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Conditions InDepth: Infertility in Women

Infertility in women is a disorder of the reproductive system that prevents the body’s ability to conceive. Recurrent pregnancy loss is often considered a type of infertility. A heterosexual 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 and travel to the fallopian tube. There, a man’s sperm fertilizes it. 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 further decline by age 40 in women.

Common causes of infertility in women include:

  • Menstrual cycle dysfunction—the most common cause of infertility in women due to failure to ovulate
  • Problems with ovulation—something affects the development and release of an egg by the ovary
  • Fallopian tube blockage—present from birth or may result from surgery, trauma, or infection in the pelvic area
  • Endometriosis —results when tissue from the uterine lining is found outside the uterus
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References:

Evaluating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 2012. Accessed May 18, 2017.
Infertility fact sheet. Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at:
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Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed May 18, 2017.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2017.
Overview of infertility. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated March 2017. Accessed May 18, 2017.
Treating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2015. Accessed May 18, 2017.
Last reviewed May 2017 by Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

 

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