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Top 10 Causes of Infertility

Top 10 Causes of Infertility

Infertility diagnosis can be devastating. With 1 in 8 couples face infertility and trouble naturally conceiving according to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, there is no denying the time is now to work to change how we educate and manage fertility health.

Couples who are given an infertility diagnosis have usually gone through extensive fertility testing. What couples may not know is that there are often natural options to help correct many fertility problems. We have hundreds of articles dedicated to aiding couples who have been diagnosed with infertility. We are dedicated to providing information on natural options for healing and restoring healthy fertility.

Primary infertility is defined as a couple that has not be able to conceive after trying for a year or more of unprotected intercourse. Secondary infertility is defined as couples who have had children previously, but are unable to achieve another pregnancy. (World Health Organization; WHO)

Let us look at the Top 10 causes of infertility. Simply click “Learn more here…” at the end of each section to learn more about that specific issue and natural therapies that have been found helpful in healing/correcting the issue.

Ovulation Disorders

There are a variety of reasons a woman may have no ovulation or irregular ovulation cycles. Hormonal balance is the number one reason women have ovulation disorder.

There are many factors which play a role in regulating the menstrual cycle. When the delicate communication between the pituitary gland, the ovaries and the follicles does not work properly and ovulation does not occur.

Here are some reasons why hormonal balance may occur, causing ovulation disorders:

    -Poor egg health
    -Problems with one or more of the endocrine glands
    Poor nutrition
    -Poor lifestyle choices
    -Low Body Weight
    -Long-term use of fertility medications containing hormones, for example birth control.
    -Genetic predisposition

Learn more about healthy menstrual cycles here…

Low Sperm Count

Experts believe that a sperm count of 15 million sperm per mL or more is a healthy sperm count. According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, “Counts below 10 million are considered poor; counts of 20 million or more may be fine if motility and morphology are normal.”

Low sperm count may be due some or a combination of the following reasons:

    -Poor lifestyle choices; smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet, stress, environmental pollution, EMF’s, tight clothing.
    -Antisperm antibodies
    -Genetic predisposition
    -Damage to the reproductive organs
    -Illness, for example, cancer treated with chemotherapy

Poor Sperm Health

This includes sperm motility (movement of the sperm, tail whip) and morphology (shape/proper formation of the sperm and DNA). 25% of infertility cases are due to poor sperm health. The causes of poor sperm health are often the same as those for low sperm count, though not all men with low sperm count will also have poor sperm health and vice versa. Learn more about Male Infertility here

Blocked Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tubes are the pathways in which the ova travel from the ovaries down into the uterus, and if there is a blockage in these tubes, it can prevent this from occurring.

The main cause of blocked fallopian tubes:

    -Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), often from STD’s
    Uterine fibroids
    -Ectopic Pregnancy

Faculty in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Yale
University School of Medicine say that “Tubal disease is responsible for approximately 15% of female infertility.” Learn more here…


Endometriosis is when excess endometrium lining of the uterus, which normally grows in preparation for the implantation of the egg, does not completely shed during menstruation and ends up in places where it doesn’t belong. It then begins to attach to other places of the body besides the uterus. When menses comes not only does the lining in the uterus bleed, the endometriosis that has grown in other places of the body also bleeds.

35-40% of infertility cases in women are due to endometriosis. This is two to three times the rate of infertility in the general population. Learn more here…

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This syndrome is attributed to hormonal balance in the female body. The hormone imbalance may cause menstrual cycle irregularities, weight gain, insulin resistance, skin problems, small cysts in the ovaries, and hirsutism (excessive body hair/thinning head hair). Not all women who are diagnosed with PCOS have all of the symptoms or may only have a couple. PCOS is not very well understood and because each woman varies in her symptoms it can be difficult to properly diagnose and treat. PCOS is a very common condition, affecting 4-18% of reproductive age women. Learn more here…

Poor Egg Health

There are many factors that may impact the health of the ovaries and eggs including environmental factors, hormones in the diet, stress, lifestyle choices, and aging.

Important note: Poor ovarian reserve (low follicle count) with poor egg health before the age of 40 may be a sign of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF). This is something you will want to talk to your doctor about, including testing options to rule this out.

Poor egg health may be due some or a combination of the following reasons:

    -Poor lifestyle choices; smoking, drinking alcohol, poor diet, stress, environmental pollution, and sedentary lifestyle (poor circulation).
    -Hormonal balance
    -Genetic predisposition
    -Damage to the reproductive organs
    -Illness, for example, cancer treated with chemotherapy
    -Auto-immune disorder
    -Age plays a role

Learn more here…

Body Weight

Fertility Preservation in Pittsburgh, PA, shares, “According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 12% of infertility cases are due to deviations in body weight, meaning either obesity or low body weight.” Thankfully, in many cases this is easy to remedy and infertility can be restored when a healthy body weight is reached. Learn more here…

Anti-sperm Antibodies

In some people, semen can cause an immune response. This can happen in both men and women. Antibodies are triggered during the immune response that work to kill off the sperm. High numbers of sperm antibodies can make it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg and/or fertilize the egg. Antisperm antibodies also may damage sperm that survive, which increases chances of miscarriage.

A man’s body may create antisperm antibodies when the sperm come into contact with his immune system cells. This happens when the testicles are injured, after surgery (biopsy, vasectomy), or if the prostate gland has an infection. The testicles protect the sperm from immune cells; when they are damaged they may no longer be able to do that.

It is estimated that within the first year after vasectomy that 50-80% of men have detectable sperm-agglutinating antibodies and 25-60% of men develop sperm-immobilizing antibodies. A small percentage of men don’t develop anti-sperm antibodies in the first year, but may in the second or third years according to Mark A. Barone, DVM, MS, for the Global Library or Women’s Medicine.

Some women’s bodies have an allergic reaction to her partner’s sperm. This stimulates the immune system to create antisperm antibodies that attack her partner’s sperm. This may also cause her vaginal tissues to react to the semen, which may result in rash, sores, or painful sexual intercourse. Doctors are not sure why this happens. Learn more here…

Vas Deferens Blockage

This is also known as blockage of the epididymis. The Vas Deferens is the tube in which the fertile sperm are transported. Varicocele (varicose veins) of the testicles is the number one reason for this blockage. Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia may also cause a blockage. Varicocele is usually treated with surgery. It is important to be treated for any STD right way to prevent damage to the reproductive organs.

Combination Infertility

This is when both partners have been diagnosed with one or more fertility issues. About 20-30% of infertility cases are due to combination infertility. This diagnosis can feel devastating, but there is always hope! Please review the individual fertility issue for more information.

Unexplained Infertility

Of all the couples diagnosed with infertility, 15% are diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This means the doctors cannot find a reason why pregnancy is not occurring. Both partners have done all the tests and nothing comes back as a definitive cause of infertility. While it may feel good to know you don’t have a specific problem, it can be confusing on what to do next. This is where natural therapies can be very effective. The focus with natural therapies is geared toward bringing the body back into balance. If after reading through this website you’re still unsure where to start, please book a consultation with one of our Natural Fertility Specialists here.

Too learn more about related subjects covered in this article, please visit the following links:

Endocrinology and Fertility: The Endocrine System is Vital for Reproductive Health

Healing From Ectopic Pregnancy

Understanding Premature Ovarian Failure

What About Unexplained Infertility?


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    Yes, this is the problem that most of the couples experience these days. Maybe this infertility problem may occur due to food habits, lifestyle and many more. You have explained top 10 causes clearly and I appreciate that. Definitely, all these are the primary reasons for infertility that occur in couples. Ovulation disorder is caused by hormonal imbalance is correct. Low sperm count and poor sperm health is one of the main reasons in men and as you have mentioned in the article it may be due to smoking, bad food habits, drinking alcohol etc. One must change his/her lifestyle and food habits to avoid all these. Thanks for explaining all these in detail about the causes of infertility.

  2. Avatar

    Awesome information.. thanks for sharing

  3. Avatar

    well, thanks for sharing the best posts they very nice and very useful to us. You made a good site it very help us and We like your site a lot its really interesting one. I got such a good information and suggestions they amazing.

  4. Avatar

    This article has been most helpful.

  5. Avatar

    Oh dear, oh dear, have no fear we WILL get this figured out.

  6. Avatar

    Hi, i don’t think low follicle count or low ovarian reserve is the same as POF. Please can you check? I have low amh but haven’t been given a POF diagnosis. My FSH levels are normal and I still ovulate. I would hate for anyone to read this article and get upset.

    • Hi Jane,

      Low follicle count and low ovarian reserve are not the same as premature ovarian failure, but they are often part of, or can be a sign for women under 40 years of age, of this condition. In other words, they are part of criteria for diagnosis of POF. I put this information in here, so that women under 40 reading this article would understand poor egg health and/or low ovarian reserve prior to reaching the age of 40 may be a sign of premature ovarian failure. I can edit the wording, since this may be confusing for some readers.