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10th Jun 2017

An expert has shared some of the top causes of infertility in women

According to Eurostat, women in Ireland, on average, wait until they’re 30 to have babies. And chances are they only start thinking about conception at that time.

But, according to Alan B. Copperman, medical director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, women need to be mindful of their fertility in the years that precede the decision to have a baby.

Copperman spoke to SELF magazine to discuss the most common factors attributing to infertility.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common cause is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The Women’s Health Clinic says PCOS is seen in 5 to 10 per cent of women and is known to run in families.

PCOS causes problems because polycystic ovaries are unable to produce the levels of hormones required to release one egg at ovulation each month. Typically, progesterone is not produced and a bleed does not occur. The cysts formed can also produce excessive amounts of male hormone.

Another common factor of infertility is endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus starts to grow in other places like the ovaries, behind the uterus, or in the fallopian tubes, causing irritation and the development of scar tissue.

According to the Endometriosis Association of Ireland, it is estimated that between 2 and 10 per cent of women within the general population have endometriosis.

Women with endometriosis often have severe complaints and a significantly reduced quality of life including restraint of normal activities, pain/discomfort, and anxiety/depression.

The next most common cause of infertility is STIs and other infections. These can cause a blockage in the fallopian tubes. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most common cause of this.

“If left untreated, [an infection] can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes. That’s where the egg and sperm meet, and they’re not able to if it’s blocked,” fertility expert Meike L. Uhler M.D said.

Furthermore, untreated STIs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a condition that leads to an infection of reproductive organs, usually the uterus or fallopian tubes.

Other causes of infertility include excess body weight and age.

If you have any questions regarding the above or want to find out more about your fertility or family planning, please consult your doctor.