= Menu

Top 5 Causes of Female Infertility

As an acupuncturist and chiropractor, I always look to simple and natural solutions to solve most health problems. Even though many of these conditions are treatable with natural and holistic medicine, it is still important that you are aware of all of your options. A strong understanding of the allopathic world is essential, because information is POWER and there are few things more disempowering than not being able to have a baby.

While there are many different causes of infertility, let's learn about the top five that plague so many women.

1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. According to Dr. Louise Chang, it affects over 7 million women. Multiple ovarian cysts form and then create a hormonal imbalance, causing your body to produce androgens (male hormones) and decrease your ability to ovulate.   While it is not impossible to get pregnant with PCOS, if your ability to release eggs is impaired, then getting pregnant can be that much more difficult.   Symptoms of PCOS include insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal hair growth on the face or body, irregular or missed periods, acne, skin tags, male-pattern baldness, and anxiety and depression.  

If you think you may have PCOS, it is so important to get treated because you make be a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, endometrial cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. At this point there is no conventional cure, however there are methods to help you manage your symptoms and prevent co-morbid illnesses.  

2. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition that occurs when your endometrium, or uterine lining, develops outside your uterus.   Your endometrium can develop on your ovaries, creating cysts, or on your fallopian tubes. Though this tissue can be removed, scarring can occur that can block the passage of sperm, preventing a pregnancy. 

In addition to infertility, symptoms of endometriosis can cause pelvic pain, excessive bleeding, painful periods, pain with intercourse, and pain with urination and bowel movements. You may also experience nausea, fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. Endometriosis can be treated many ways naturally, but the allopathic treatments include medications and surgery. Medications include NSAIDS, naproxin, contraceptives, and drugs that decrease estrogen and increase progesterone.    

3. Pituitary Problems

The pituitary gland is commonly known as the "master gland" because it controls the ENTIRE endocrine system! If you have dysfunctions with your pituitary gland, this can create problems throughout your entire body.   It communicates with your thyroid, your adrenals, your pancreas, and your ovaries. If you have pituitary problems, natural medicine, such as acupuncture, nutrition, and chiropractic are wonderful for creating balance and managing your symptoms. However, having a good endocrinologist is essential. Many times, these conditions must be managed with medications and not receiving the proper treatment can leave you VERY sick!

Two major hormones that are produced by your pituitary gland that stimulate ovulation are follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH).   The most common signs of imbalances of FSH and LH are irregular or absent periods. Hyperprolactinemia occurs when the anterior portion of your pituitary gland produces too much prolactin. In short, this decreases the amount of estrogen in your body. Sometimes, this goes away on its own, but medications can be prescribed.

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is under-functioning and does not produce enough T4. This condition can interfere with ovulation. Fortunately, this is an easy fix! Most medications are relatively safe during pregnancy, and if you are trying a natural route iodine, diet, and Yoga may be beneficial.

Adrenal insufficiency occurs when your adrenal glands don't produce enough cortisol (stress hormone) and ATCH. This condition is also known as Addison's disease. Even though it has a bad reputation, cortisol is a vital hormone that is necessary for immune function, stress response, and homeostasis.   If you have adrenal insufficiency, you just have to take your medications. Hydrocortisone is preferable to other steroids, as this is the closest to the natural cortisol produced by your body.

Cushing's Disease occurs when a benign tumor on your pituitary gland wreaks havoc on your entire body. Common symptoms include trunkal obesity, excessive hair growth, moon face, spinal distortions - "Buffalo hump," weakening of bones & skin, fatigue, acne, and of course... elevated cortisol. Some docs will go by the "watch and wait," which is fine if your symptoms aren't too bad, but it's better to get the surgery sooner rather than later. When the tumor is small, they can go up your nose or through your eye. Even though this sounds scary, it is a relatively low-risk procedure and it's better than them opening up your skull. Trust me on this - I went through this and I'm okay. 

4. Premature Ovarian Failure

Premature ovarian failure occurs when your ovaries no longer produce eggs. However, you can miss this if your doctors marginalize you and label you as "menopausal" or "perimenopausal." This is why blood work is so important! Symptoms of premature ovarian failure are often associated with a decrease in estrogen and may include irregular or missed periods, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability, and of course, infertility.

If you have premature ovarian failure due to chemotherapy, it is most likely that your oncologist has discussed this with you. If not, you need a new doctor.

But if you have premature ovarian failure due to genetics or an autoimmune condition, it doesn't hurt to tune up your Throat Chakra and ask your doctor to get some blood work. Some tests that your doctor might want to consider would be to test your estradiol levels, your follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) levels, and your prolactin levels. Genetic testing may include a "kareotype" that would examine your chromosomes for any problems and an FMR1 test to make sure that both of your X chromosomes - as females we are XX - are intact.

This is really important because in addition to infertility and discomfort, prematurely low estrogen can lead to osteoporosis, heart disease, and dementia.

5. Unknown

Sometimes there is no known cause for not being able to have a baby.   In some ways, this can be the saddest of all because there is no way to put a name on it. Even though in away, this is good, because you and your partner may both be very healthy, it still hurts.

And the doctors don't know why?   Since there is no "reason" you are left feeling even more helpless.

But this is when you really want to focus on alternative methods like acupuncture, massage, herbs, and nutrition. These methods will support and nourish your body and help you to be better able to support a baby.

Whatever the reason for your struggle with fertility, know that you are not alone. I encourage you to reach out for support to friends, family, coaches, and counselors.  

If you would like to learn more and be part of a group of kind and caring individuals, please feel free to join our Facebook group, Hope & Healing Fertility.