Causes of female infertility

Female infertility can be caused by a variety of factors that affect or interfere with the following biological processes:

  • ovulation, when the mature egg is released from the ovary
  • fertilization, which occurs when sperm meets the egg in the fallopian tube after traveling through the cervix and uterus
  • implantation, which occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus where it can then grow and develop into a baby

Risk factors

Risk factors for female infertility include:

  • increasing age
  • smoking cigarettes
  • heavy use of alcohol
  • being overweight, obese, or significantly underweight
  • having certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can damage the reproductive system

Medical conditions

A variety of medical conditions can affect the female reproductive system and cause infertility in women.

Examples include:

  • ovulation disorders, which can be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or hormonal imbalances
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • endometriosis
  • uterine fibroids
  • premature ovarian failure
  • scarring from a previous surgery

Medications and drugs

Certain medications and drugs that can affect female infertility include:

  • chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • long-term use of high-dosage nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin (Bayer) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • antipsychotic medications
  • recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine

The bottom line

According to the Mayo Clinic, ovulation problems cause around one-quarter of the infertility issues seen in couples. An irregular or absent period are two signs that a woman may not be ovulating.

Source: Healthline