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The Most Common Causes of Infertility

Every year, more than six million women in the United States have trouble conceiving a child or carrying a baby to full term. Although infertility is fairly common, when it happens to you, you might feel like you’re in it all alone. Why can’t you and your partner get pregnant, you wonder, and is there anything you can do to improve your chances of having a healthy baby? 

The highly trained and compassionate nurse practitioners Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C, treat infertility in both women and men at Maria Cole Family Practice in Odessa, Texas. Here, they share some of the most common reasons for fertility, as well as treatments that can help you overcome them so you can have the family of your dreams.

1. Your ovaries don’t produce or release eggs

Even if you menstruate, your ovaries may not be producing or releasing eggs on a regular basis, which is why you can’t get pregnant. If you don’t release an egg during your menstrual cycle, you have a condition known as anovulation. The most common reasons for anovulation are:

Hormonal imbalances

Ovulation requires the right amount of a number of key hormones. If you have polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOS), your body creates too much of the “male” hormone, testosterone. In addition to impaired fertility, you might have other symptoms, including increased facial hair.

You might also produce too many or too few hormones in your pituitary gland, hypothalamus, or thyroid. If we detect abnormal hormone levels in a blood test, they may recommend hormone therapy to balance your hormones or stimulate ovulation.

You exercise too much

Athletes and women with anorexia or other eating disorders may develop a condition called functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA). If you have FHA, your body doesn’t release eggs and you don’t menstruate. Cutting back on exercise and gaining a healthy amount of weight can restore your fertility.

You don’t have enough eggs

If you’re going through perimenopause or menopause, your hormone levels change and your body produces and releases fewer eggs. You might also have premature ovarian insufficiency because of a health condition or cancer treatment. We may treat your underlying health condition or may refer you to a fertility specialist for assisted reproductive technology (ART).

2. Your fallopian tubes are blocked

If you once had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or another type of pelvic infection or trauma, your fallopian tubes may be blocked by scar tissue. You could also have blocked fallopian tubes if you have endometriosis, in which your uterine lining could grow over your ovaries and fallopian tubes.

We may examine your fallopian tubes with a test called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). During an HSG, our radiologist injects dye into your uterus and up into your fallopian tubes, and then takes X-rays to see if the dye goes into the tubes or is blocked and drips back into the uterus.

If your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, we may recommend surgery. She refers you to a specialist so you can get the treatment you need.

3. You have fibroids or other uterine abnormalities

Fibroids are benign tumors made up of the muscle fibers in your uterus. Fibroids can grow inside or outside your uterus, and range from pea-size to the grapefruit-size. Fibroids and other benign tumors can change the shape of your uterus, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the lining and develop normally.

Other uterine abnormalities, including scarring from endometriosis, can complicate conception and pregnancy. Your nurse may recommend hormone therapy to shrink small fibroids or may refer you to a surgeon who specializes in removing uterine growths and abnormalities.

4. Your partner has problems with sperm

Men may also have fertility problems that affect your chances of becoming pregnant. Sometimes both the man and the woman have fertility issues that must be resolved before they can get pregnant.

The most common fertility issue for men is a low sperm count or abnormally shaped sperm. We may be able to conduct an artificial insemination procedure using your partner’s or a donor’s sperm to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. We may also refer you to a fertility specialist for in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Don’t suffer through another disappointment. Find out what’s causing your infertility and what you can do about it by calling us at 432-200-9087 or using our online message form.

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