Reasons You Can’t Get Pregnant: 11 Possible Causes
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Dr. Namita Kotia has been practicing infertility treatment at Aastha Fertility Care since 2010, and during this time, she has helped around 2000+ couples become parents through IVF treatment and also other assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods like ICSI, IUI, GIFT, etc. Dr. Namita provides her patients with the best possible care and treatment options.
Pregnancy is one of the most enjoyable and special experiences for a couple. But on the contrary side, this can turn out to be a frustrating and overwhelming period for those who have been trying to get pregnant for more than 10-12 months but aren’t able to.
Even after opting out of conventional methods- having frequent intercourse during your fertile window, using ovulation apps, predictor kits, and tracking temperature every morning, continuous negative results can harm your mental health. According to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility affects about 10-14% of the Indian population.
However, there are many possible reasons for the inefficiency in conceiving and many possible solutions. For example, you may have structural problems in the reproductive system, ovulation irregularities, underlying medical conditions, or semen-related factors, or simply, you may be trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant.
It is possible to identify most causes of infertility through symptoms like severe menstrual cramps or irregular periods. However, many causes are not detected until a doctor performs tests. These are the 11 possible reasons you can’t get pregnant that might be preventing you from conceiving naturally –
1. Failure to Ovulate
Failure to ovulate is the most common cause of female infertility, and it affects nearly 40% of women dealing with infertility issues. It can be due to.
- Aging- Increasing age diminishes ovarian reserves, leading to fewer eggs in women’s ovaries.
- Gynecologically or ovarian conditions, including primary ovarian insufficiency or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Endocrine disorders include problems with the hypothalamus or thyroid issues. These affect your body’s hormone production, leaving too many or too few groups of hormones.
- Lifestyle or environmental factors.
2. Structural Problems in the Reproductive System
The presence of abnormal or unwanted tissue in the uterus or fallopian tube can create problems for a woman in conceiving. These tissues sometimes block the fallopian tube, restricting the passage for sperm to reach the egg or ovaries to the uterus. These further also interfere with implantation, leading to infertility.
Some of these causes include-
- Uterine Fibroids: This refers to the growth of tissues around or within the uterus wall. Although most women do not have problems with fibroids and can achieve pregnancy, some might experience preterm labor or miscarriages.
- Endometriosis: Unwanted tissue growth in the uterus blocking the fallopian tube.
- Polyps: This refers to the non-cancerous growth of tissue in the uterus that sometimes interferes with functions of the uterus, making it difficult for a woman to conceive naturally.
- Scarring in the uterus from infections, previous injuries, or surgery. It may interfere with the implantation process and increase the risk of miscarriages, leading to infertility.
- Unusual uterus shape affects the ability to carry out a pregnancy and the implantation process.
3. Implantation Failure
Sometimes the fertilized egg cannot implant and attach itself to the uterus to begin pregnancy. Specific causes for the implantation failure are therefore unknown; some of the possibilities include-
- Thin endometrium
- Genetic defects in the embryo
- Progesterone resistance
- Scar tissue interferes with the functions of the endometrial cavity.
- Defects in embryo
4. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
PCOS is a hormonal condition where the adrenal glands and women’s ovaries produce more androgens than normal. These high hormones further interfere with the release of eggs during ovulation and in the development of ovarian follicles. It results in the development of cysts or fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries, affecting their efficiency and leading to infertility.
5. POI (Primary Ovary Insufficiency)
Contrary to PCOS, POI is a condition when women’s ovaries stop producing eggs and hormones during the early reproductive years. It further leads to abnormal levels of pituitary or ovarian hormones, leading to irregular ovulation and problems with ovaries.
But, women with POI still have a 5% to 10% chance of conceiving naturally, while some need medical treatments to process the same.
6. Autoimmune Disorders
The immune system attacks the body’s normal tissues in autoimmune disorders, especially the reproductive organs. The reasons for the disorders are still not fully understood, but inflammation in the uterus or placenta or medications are used to treat the same.
7. Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are the non-cancerous growth in the uterus that contribute to 5% to 10% of infertility cases in women. Fibroids larger than 6 centimeters located in the uterine cavity are more likely to affect if they-
- Block the fallopian tube,
- Change the shape of the uterus,
- Change the original position of the cervix,
- Interfere with the normal uterus blood flow.
8. Problems in Menstrual Cycle
Menstruation prepares a female’s body for pregnancy, and any interruption in it can lead to infertility. In addition, the menstrual cycle is a combination of multiple phases, and problems in any of the stages can increase difficulties in pregnancy or infertility.
Infections are also the leading cause of infertility in women. For example, untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease, which can block or scars the fallopian tube. Moreover, untreated syphilis can also increase a woman’s stillbirth risk.
Surgical treatment of cervical lesions due to HPV infection can also lead to infertility. It is because it reduces the quality or amount of cervical mucus, making it difficult for a woman to achieve a normal pregnancy.
Endometrium cells that usually grow in the uterine cavity lead to endometriosis. According to NICHD, more than 255 women have endometriosis, and 30% deal with infertility. Endometriosis leads to-
- Change in the woman’s reproductive organ’s structure leads to pelvic adhesions made of scar tissue that obstructs and affects the release of an egg.
- A chemical change in the uterine line.
- Increase in the amount of fluid in the peritoneum.
11. Failure of an Egg to Mature Properly
Sometimes, the egg may fail to mature properly, which can be due to obesity, PCOD, or a lack of proteins that help mature the eggs. As a result, an immature egg will not release according to the desired cycle and may block the fallopian tubes or lead to in-fertilization.
For most couples, it takes 4-12 months of regular intercourse before pregnancy occurs. However, some couples find it difficult to conceive naturally due to several factors, including male or female infertility problems. If you have been trying to become pregnant for more than a year without success, you should consult a doctor or seek infertility treatment. Infertility treatments like IVF procedures can help you bypass these pregnancy problems and let you experience motherhood.