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Beware of common causes of female infertility

Blocked fallopian tubes

This is the commonest cause of female infertility locally. Tubes may be blocked following sexually transmitted infections (STIs), other pelvic infections, or even after pelvic surgery. Tests to check the tubes are easily available.
A few selected women may be amenable for tubal surgery. But the majority will require IVF treatment.

Appropriate use of condoms can prevent STIs. Any suspected infection must be tested for, and treated promptly.

Problems with ovulation

Some women may not ovulate every month. There are many causes for this, but the commonest is a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The main indicator of failure to ovulate is irregular periods.

The initial evaluation will give a clue about why you aren’t ovulating. Specific tests will then confirm the diagnosis. Many women can be helped with simple ovulation tablets, but others will require more complex treatments that may include IVF.

Uterine factors

The uterus plays a key role in reproduction. Any conditions affecting its function may interfere with conception. Normal menstrual cycles are an indirect indicator of uterine function, in conjunction with ovulation. Those with abnormal menstrual patterns may harbor some uterine conditions. Gynecology ultrasound scans will usually diagnose most of the uterine conditions, including abnormal growths like fibroids. Some women will require surgery to optimize uterine function, in conjunction with specific fertility treatments.

Female age

Advancing female age, from the mid-30s onwards, is a major contributor of female infertility. The egg numbers and quality dramatically decline as women approach the 40s. It’s important to be aware that even advanced fertility treatments cannot compensate for this biological phenomenon. Fertility treatments at advanced ages usually fail for the majority. The option of using donated eggs can always be considered as an alternative.

Women should consider having children earlier if possible. Or alternatively consider the option of banking their eggs for future use.

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