What causes infertility?
Making a baby (getting pregnant) is complex. Multiple things have to go right for both the man and the woman. Therefore, there are many causes of infertility in women and men.
A woman’s fertility can be affected by:
- This is the process by which the egg leaves the ovary and travels to meet the sperm. Some women don’t ovulate every month, which makes it harder to become pregnant.
- Problems with your reproductive system (fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, ovaries). This might include a blockage, cancerous or noncancerous growths, scarring, enlarged ovaries, or an abnormal opening of the cervix.
- Disease and disorders. This might include endometriosis (when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus) or polycystic ovary syndrome (having enlarged ovaries containing fluid-filled sacs).
- Early-onset menopause. This would occur before the age of 40. It may be tied to an immune system disease, cancer treatments, or a genetic syndrome.
- As a woman gets older, it becomes harder to get pregnant.
- Cancer treatments. Radiation and chemotherapy affect fertility.
- Smoking and substance abuse. Smoking, alcohol, and drug use can make it difficult to get pregnant.
A man’s fertility can be affected by:
- Unhealthy or poorly functioning sperm. This includes the quality of the man’s sperm. It also includes how well and how quickly the sperm move as they travel to meet the egg.
- A varicocele — enlarged veins inside the loose skin that surrounds a man’s testicles. It can cause low sperm count.
- This can be a bacterial infection inside the man’s testicles. It can also be a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Retrograde ejaculation — a man’s sperm goes into his bladder rather than outside the penis as it is supposed to.
- Autoimmune disorders (when the body attacks itself).
- Cancerous or non-cancerous growths.
- Undescended testicles. One or both of a man’s testicles remain in his abdomen. Testicles are supposed to drop down from the abdomen into the scrotal sac at birth.
- Hormone imbalance.
- Blockages within the many tubes that carry a man’s sperm.
- Certain genetic syndromes, such as Down syndrome.