Infertility means inability to conceive after trying unprotected sex for more than a year. Both male and female can face infertility problems. If a woman has many miscarriages it can be due to some fertility issues. There can be many causes of female infertility that may include:
• Damage to fallopian tubes – fallopian tubes carries eggs from ovaries which produce eggs to the uterus. This can be damaged by scars from a pelvic infections, endometriosis and pelvic surgery and can prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
• Age – older women have more infertility issues than the younger women.
• Hormonal imbalance – hormonal changes that can affect the releasing of the egg from the ovary and thickening of the uterus lining.
• Cervical problems – cervical conditions that may prevent sperms from passing through the cervical canal.
• Uterine issues – some women may have polyps or fibroids that can interfere with the conception.
• Unexplained infertility – there are about 20% of couples with unknown infertility issues.
• Ovulation disorders – some problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD), hypothalamic dysfunction, premature ovarian failure etc can also affect.
Doctor may recommend several tests for female infertility that includes:
• Hysterosalpingography (HSG) – in this, doctor injects either dye or saline and air into a cervix which travel up through fallopian tubes. Doctor will see if the tubes are blocked through ultrasound or X-rays of the reproductive organs.
• Laparoscopy – thin tube with a tiny camera is inserted through a small cut near the belly button to check if there is any abnormal growth on the outside of uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This also let the doctor to see if the fallopian tubes are blocked or not.
• Some blood tests and imaging tests
• Genetic testing – to help determining the genetic issue causing fertility.
Female infertility can be treated through several treatment methods:
• Laparoscopy – if female has been diagnosed with tubal or pelvic disease, surgery can be done to reconstruct the reproductive organs. In laparoscopy procedure, doctor inserts a laparoscope through a small incision near the belly button to remove the scar tissue, treat endometriosis, to open blocked tubes or remove ovarian cysts.
• Hysteroscopy – doctor inserts a hysteroscope into the uterus through cervix to remove polyps and fibroid tumors, to divide scar tissue, and to open up blocked tubes.
• Medications – some ovulation problems can be corrected with drugs prescribed by doctor who may help in timely ovulation that may lead to conception.
• Intrauterine insemination (IUI) - In this procedure, high quality sperms are separated from sluggish or immobile sperm. This high quality sperm is then injected directly into the womb.
• In-vitro fertilization (IVF) – During the IVF process, eggs are taken from the female’s ovaries; sperms are also collected from the male partner at the same time. Then both collected eggs and sperms are made to fertilize in the lab and this fertilized egg called embryo is then implanted in the women’s womb via catheter through the cervix to achieve pregnancy.
• Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - is done as an additional procedure of an IVF treatment cycle in which a single sperm is injected directly into each egg to fertilize it with the help of very fine micro-manipulation instrument.