Causes of infertility

The ability to get pregnant is one of the most fundamental defining characteristics of being a woman. Yet many women, for one reason or another, cannot.

By MATTHEW WAGNER
November 23, 2006 10:06
2 minute read.
pregnant belly 88

pregnant belly 88. (photo credit: )

The ability to get pregnant is one of the most fundamental defining characteristics of being a woman. Yet many women, for one reason or another, cannot. With the help of modern technology, some of these women now have the ability to bring into the world genetic offspring. But they are unable, or not permitted by their doctors, to become pregnant themselves. Surrogacy is these women's only option. Listed below are conditions that prohibit pregnancy, but may still allow for genetic offspring. Uterine growths - The most common medical problems that preclude pregnancy but do not hurt a woman's eggs are growths in the lining of the uterus. Some of these conditions include fibroids, a type of fibrous growth, or adenomyosis, a condition which leads to scarring and enlarging of the uterus. Damage to the uterus via D&C (dilatation and curettage) - D&C is a procedure in which the vagina is held open with a speculum and the cervix is dilated with a metal rod. A curette is then passed through the cervical canal into the uterus where endometrial tissue is removed and collected for examination. Sometimes this procedure can damage the lining of the uterus. Although rarer, there are also congenital conditions that make pregnancy impossible. Mayer-Rokitansky-K ster-Hauser or MRKH syndrome (known in Israel simply as Rokitansky) - The uterus, cervix, and upper portion of the internal vagina are either absent or not fully developed although ovaries and other reproductive parts are intact. This syndrome affects as many as 1 in 5,000. DES (diethylstilbestrol) daughters - the offspring of women given the drug DES starting in 1938 and through the '70s to lower the risk of miscarriage. It was later discovered that not only was DES ineffective against miscarriage, it also caused abnormalities of the uterus in the daughters of the women that took it. There are also medical conditions that prevent both pregnancy and egg production. Early menopause - women who are affected stop producing eggs and also lose the ability to become pregnant. Hysterectomy - an operation involving the removal of the upper part of the uterus with or without the cervix, fallopian tubes and the ovaries. Normally, a hysterectomy is performed to remove or prevent cancer. Radiation treatments against cancer that destroy the eggs and makes the women infertile. In other cases a woman might in theory be physically capable of bearing a child. But due to medical conditions unrelated to the reproductive organs pregnancy would threaten the mother's or the embryo's life. For instance, a woman suffering from uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes or from systemic lupus erythematosus, cancer or autoimmune diseases in which the embryo is misidentified as a dangerous foreign body that is attacked by the immune system are all medical conditions that may prevent a women from getting pregnant.


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