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Around one in six couples are struggling to get pregnant. There are many different causes, and both partners should participate in fertility testing if they haven't conceived after a year of trying.

The good news is that most fertility problems are treatable but for that to happen, they have to be identified first. These are the most common causes of female infertility. 

Lifestyle factors

Being overweight or underweight affects fertility in both sexes, and a diet that is deficient in important nutrients also reduces fertility. Smoking and drinking alcohol (even moderate amounts can have an impact!) are notoriously bad lifestyle choices for women who are trying to conceive. Both these addictive habits can cause temporary infertility, and can be very dangerous for a fetus if you do conceive. Regular exercise is something that keeps your body healthy, but professional athletes may find their ovulation comes to a halt because of excessive exercise. We won't even discuss illegal drug use, which is so obviously dangerous that we hope nobody reading this is trying to conceive and using drugs. The great news about lifestyle factors that cause infertility is that you can take action to change them you can lose weight, gain weight, stop smoking and drinking, and work on your diet and exercise. Do get tested for nutritional deficiencies if you are hoping to get pregnant, even if you think you are eating a healthy diet.

Not ovulating

Around one third of all cases of infertility in women are due to the woman not ovulating. Without an egg, it is obviously not possible to get pregnant. Well-known reproductive disorders such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be responsible for this, but a hormonal unbalance can also be caused by problems in the functioning of either the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland. Scarred ovaries due to infections like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or surgery can also cause anovulation. Early menopause, which can affect women as young as 20, is another possible cause of failure to ovulate. In that case, the woman would not be experiencing any type of menstrual cycle. Women who use ovulation tests to determine when they can get pregnant may notice a lack of positive ovulation tests. This should be a sign for you to see a doctor. Those who are aware of previous PID, or women who have PCOS, should discuss their options with their healthcare provider as soon as they are thinking about trying to conceive. A hormonal unbalance could be harder to self-identify. Checking for ovulation disorders will certainly be an integral part of any infertility screening you have.

Blocked fallopian tubes

Blocked fallopian tubes are among the most common causes of female infertility. Tubal blockages usually occur as a result of sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, which in turn lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and scarring throughout the reproductive system. Ectopic pregnancies (which are also a possible complication of PID, by the way) can also cause scarring in the fallopian tubes in cases where the pregnancy was successfully removed without needing to remove the tube itself. Birth defects, having had tubal surgery in the past, or even seemingly unrelated abdominal problems like appendicitis can cause blockages or cysts within the fallopian tubes, leading to infertility. Women who have risk factors for blocked fallopian tubes should ask their doctor for a diagnostic procedure. In the absence of risk factors, not getting pregnant may be the only "symptom" of blocked fallopian tubes. You may find out your tubes were damaged during fertility testing. In some cases, surgery can remove blockages and allow the woman to get pregnant naturally. Blocked fallopian tubes are also a classic reason to opt for IVF, and success rates can be very good in this case.


With endometriosis, the tissues that usually line the uterus to provide a suitable environment for a fertilized egg to implant into also occurs in other parts of the reproductive system. This lining is called the endometrium, hence the name endometriosis. The ovaries and fallopian tubes are common targets for endometriosis. According to estimates, around 10 percent of all cases of female infertility are called by this disease, which can also be very painful for women. Research has shown that as many as 30 to 40 percent of all women are infertile. Symptoms of endometriosis include abdominal pain (the most frequent symptom), as well as headaches, low energy, and even depression and anxiety. Surgery and fertility medications such as Lupron can increase endometriosis patients' chances of conceiving.