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Infertility in Women
- An egg is released from the woman's ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg travels to the fallopian tubes. Here, the man's sperm can fertilize it.
- If the egg is fertilized (conception), it moves down the fallopian tubes to the uterus.
- It implants itself into the wall of the uterus. It then begins its 40 weeks of fetal growth.
|Female Reproductive Organs|
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Problems with Ovulation
Problems with Fallopian Tubes
- Very high or very low levels of body fat (resulting in lack of ovulation), obesity
- Excessive exercise (causing to severe a loss of body fat)
- Chronic diseases, such as:
- Caffeine consumption
- Alcohol intake
Occupational exposure to:
- High temperatures
- Toxic substances
- Constant stress
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic ovaries
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Kidney failure
- Pituitary tumors
- Anorexia nervosa
- Autoimmune hypothyroidism
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic surgery (including uterine surgery)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn disease
- Cushing's disease
- Sickle cell anemia
- HIV infection
- Kidney disease
- Appendicitis with complications (ruptured appendix)
- Pain medications
- Basal body temperature—rises at ovulation and remains elevated during the second half of your cycle and throughout pregnancy; you take your temperature every day and record it on a chart
- Blood test—to measure hormone levels
- Endometrial biopsy —to see if ovulation is causing changes in the lining of the uterus
- Hysterosalpingography (HSG)—an x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes
- Transvaginal ultrasound—a device inserted into the vagina to take an image of the pelvic organs
- Hysteroscopy—a thin device inserted through the cervix to look inside the uterus
- Laparoscopy —a small device with a camera is inserted into incisions in the abdomen, allowing the doctor to examine the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus
- Ovarian cysts
- Scar tissue
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
- Artificial insemination—semen is collected and processed in a lab. It is then inserted directly into the woman's cervix or uterus.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) —several mature eggs are removed from the woman's body and mixed with sperm in a lab. The egg and sperm mixture or a 2-3 day old embryo is then placed in the uterus.
- Gamete or zygote intrafallopian transfer (GIFT or ZIFT)—an egg is removed from the woman's body and mixed with sperm in a lab. The egg and sperm mixture or a 2-3 day old embryo is then placed in the fallopian tube.
- Blastocyst intrafallopian transfer—an egg is removed from the woman's body, injected with sperm, and allowed to develop. It is later implanted into the uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection—a single sperm is injected into the egg. The resulting embryo can be implanted into the uterus or frozen for later use.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014