Causes of female infertility – Part 2
I have already described the process of pregnancy and requirements such as the sperms, eggs and hormones for pregnancy to take place. Infertility will occur in a woman if there is a failure in the process or if the requirements are either in short supply or substandard.
Today we shall be discussing causes of female infertility according to these failures or substandard or insufficient requirements.
Hormonal causes of female infertility
Polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition is characterised by infrequent ovulations or complete absence of ovulation, which is known as anovulatory cycles.
This is caused by a disorder in the hypothalamus, pituitary (these are organs in the brain) and ovary, from where the egg grows and gets released. PCOS is also linked to obesity, insulin resistance, acne and excess hair growth on the body.
Hypothalamic dysfunction. Two of the four hormones responsible for ovulation each month are follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. These hormones, together with the others are released at specifically set times during the menstrual cycle. Conditions that affect the release of these hormones may cause infertility. These conditions include obesity, sudden or substantial weight loss or increase in weight, emotional stress etc. The menstrual period can be so severely affected as to render the woman infertile.
Gluteal phase deficiency. The hormone, progesterone initially produced in the ovaries and carried on by the corpus luteum (the hollow left after an egg has been released from the ovary) may become deficient. Insufficient progesterone will not be able to sustain the pregnancy. Known as luteal phase deficiency this condition strictly speaking leads to abortion of the pregnancy.
Hyperprolactinaemia. Prolactin is the hormone secreted when a woman is lactating and breast-feeding. On the other hand, this hormone blocks oestrogen production and release, thereby effectively preventing ovulation. Indeed breast-feeding is a known contraceptive method used especially by rural women to space their children. Prolactin is produced in the pituitary gland and disorders in this gland can cause excessive release of prolactin. Such a condition is recognisable when a woman who is not pregnant is seen to be lactating.
Tubal infertility. The fallopian tubes can be damaged and blocked. When this happens, sperms can no longer pass through to meet with and fertilize the eggs. In some cases, the blockage may be partial allowing the smaller sperm cells to pass and blocking the bigger macula (the fertilized egg) from passing. Common causes of fallopian tube blockage are: ascending infections from the vagina and the uterus. These may infect and multiply in a location in the tube where the blockage could occur. Gonorrhea is a likely infection that can cause this. Tuberculosis of the tube can also cause tubal blockage. Previous surgery in the pelvis or directly involving the fallopian tube after an ectopic pregnancy is another cause of tubal blockage.
Cervical/uterine causes of female infertility. Cervical stenosis, narrowing of the cervix can be caused by excessive dilatation of the cervix during instrumental abortion.
The cervical mucus, which should trap and help the sperms in their passage through the cervical as may be inadequate.
Tumours such as fibroids can cause infertility by preventing implantation of the embryo in the uterine wall. The tumour may also be located at the point where the fallopian tube opens into the uterus. In such a position, the embryo is unable to enter the uterus to be implanted. The alkalinity of the semen may not be high enough to neutralize the acidity of the vagina.
In a condition such as this, the sperm cells will all get destroyed.
Also, it has been found out in some cases that the sperms are actually dead before they are released into the vagina. The most likely cause of death of sperm cells before ejaculation is when the semen is acidic. As I have mentioned, the semen is supposed to be alkaline so as to protect the sperm cells in the vagina. Where that protection is no longer there, even the semen of a man will destroy his own sperms.
The pH factor. The acidity or alkalinity of the body fluids plays very significant roles in the production of the hormones in both males and females. Hormonal imbalances, inadequate sperm cells and malformed eggs are all traceable to the acidity that is prevalent in our body fluids today. In the next week Thursday’s edition of the Guardian Newspaper, I shall be discussing the pH factor.
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