sad young woman holding pregnancy test; blog: health conditions linked to fertility issues

If you’re on a fertility journey, then you already know that there often are no clear answers about what’s causing your fertility issues. However, there are some health conditions that are linked to fertility problems and may be making it difficult to conceive. 

1. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a common medical condition that is linked to fertility issues. In this disorder, endometrial tissue (the type of tissue that lines the uterus) grows outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries or the fallopian tubes. Symptoms include heavy or painful periods, pelvic pain, and irregular menstrual cycles. 

Endometriosis varies in severity. Some women don’t even know they have it, while others struggle for years with unbearable pain. The severity of endometriosis is the best predictor of whether it will impede fertility. Serious cases can constrict the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Even minor cases can make it difficult for the egg to implant in the uterine wall. If you have a history of problematic or painful periods, ask your doctor if you might have endometriosis.

2. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects as many as 10% of women. This complex and frustrating fertility disorder causes the body to under-produce follicle stimulating hormones while overproducing androgens. PCOS can be linked to fertility issues because it can interfere with ovulation by delaying or eliminating the release of an egg, in addition to undermining egg quality. Women with PCOS may also be overweight, develop diabetes, or have irregular menstrual periods.

3. Autoimmune Disorders

An autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack itself, which can in turn cause fertility issues. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus undermine fertility in myriad ways. They may reduce the body’s ability to produce healthy sperm or eggs, undermine the ability of an egg to implant in the uterus, damage bodily structures, or even cause a woman’s body to attack a newly implanted embryo.

4. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

This infection of a woman’s upper reproductive system involves the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries. The most common cause of PID is an STD, but it may also occur after complications from an abortion, dilatation and curettage (D&C) surgery, childbirth or even use an intrauterine device (IUD). According to Harvard Health, a single episode of PID is associated with approximately a 15 percent risk of infertility. A second episode doubles infertility risk to about 30%. For three or more episodes, the risk rises to more than 50%.

5. Endocrine System Disorders

The endocrine system acts as your body’s communication hub, regulating hormones that help one part of the body know what the next is doing. If your endocrine system is not functioning properly, your body might not produce hormones related to pregnancy, or might produce them in the wrong quantities. This can destroy sperm quality, eliminate ovulation, produce defects in sperm and eggs, or decrease the ability of an egg to implant in the uterus. 

Some common endocrine system disorders that can cause fertility issues include:

  • Thyroid disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Adrenal disorders

6. Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids and polyps are benign growths in the uterus. The US Office on Women’s Health

estimates that anywhere between 20 and 80 percent of women develop fibroids by the time they’re 50. Though they can cause symptoms such as heavy, painful, or missed periods, many women never experience symptoms. Some women are able to get pregnant even with fibroids or polyps. 

Though, when the growths grow out of control or there are many, the chances of pregnancy are reduced. Uterine fibroids can interfere with fertility if it decreases the ability of an egg to successfully implant, and may undermine the growth of a newly implanted embryo. The result may be recurring miscarriages, or an egg that is fertilized but that never leads to a successful pregnancy.

7. Cancer

Cancer can affect virtually everything about how your body works, including your fertility. Chemotherapy attacks all cells in your body, so if you are actively undergoing chemo, it’s unwise to attempt a pregnancy. You could have a child with severe birth defects, experience multiple miscarriages, or suffer from long-term infertility. Most doctors recommend waiting until 12 months after chemotherapy to attempt a pregnancy.

Talk to A Fertility Expert

If you have questions or concerns about a health condition causing fertility issues, reach out to Carolinas Fertility Institute today. We offer a wide variety of services, from fertility evaluations to In Vitro fertilization. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation by calling our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.