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Infertility is normally defined as not conceiving after 12 months of regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control.

What is infertility?

Infertility is when a male or female cannot conceive due to a problem with the reproductive system of either partner.

Infertility can be primary or secondary. Primary infertility is when someone is not able to conceive at all. Secondary infertility is when someone has previously conceived but is no longer able to.


Infertility in females can also have a range of causes.

Problems with ovulation
Ovulation disorders make up about 25%Trusted Source of infertility cases in females. Ovulation is the monthly release of an egg. The eggs may never be released, or they may only be released in some cycles.

Ovulation disorders can occur due to:

Hyperprolactinemia: If prolactin levels are high and the female is not pregnant or breastfeeding, it may affect ovulation and fertility.

Thyroid problems: An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can lead to a hormonal imbalance that interferes with ovulation.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): This is a hormonal condition that can cause frequent or prolonged menstruation and can interfere with ovulation.
Problems in the uterus or fallopian tubes can also prevent the egg from traveling from the ovary to the uterus, or womb. If the egg does not travel, it can be harder to conceive naturally.

Other causes include:

Chronic conditions: These include AIDS or cancer.
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI): The ovaries stop working normally before the age of 40 years.

Poor egg quality: The quality of the eggs may interfere with conception. As a female ages, the number and quality of the eggs declines. Eggs that are damaged or develop genetic abnormalities may also not be able to sustain a pregnancy. The older a female is, the higher the risk.

Surgery: Pelvic surgery can sometimes cause scarring or damage to the fallopian tubes. Cervical surgery can sometimes cause scarring or shortening of the cervix. The cervix is the neck of the uterus.

Submucosal fibroids: Benign or noncancerous tumors occur in the muscular wall of the uterus. They can interfere with implantation or blockTrusted Source the fallopian tube, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg.

Endometriosis: Cells that normally occur within the lining of the uterus start growing elsewhere in the body.

Tubal ligation: In females who have chosen to have their fallopian tubes blocked, the process can be reversed, but the chances of becoming fertile again are not high.
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