If you and your partner have been struggling to get pregnant, you’re not alone. According to the American Pregnancy Association, infertility affects 1 in every 6 American couples. Roughly half of those cases account for female infertility, or when the cause of infertility exists in the woman. While there are many possible reasons you might have difficulties conceiving, in some cases, infertility might be the result of another serious medical condition – one you may or may not know you have. Here’s a list of three conditions or disorders that may lead to infertility.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, is a serious condition resulting from bacterial infections, like gonorrhea and chlamydia. It’s wide-reaching, affecting almost 1,000,000 American women every year. The American Pregnancy Association warns that, while the symptoms are often hardly recognizable, PID can damage a woman’s internal reproductive organs. Although the symptoms are subtle, certain women have reported experiencing lower abdominal pain, fever, vaginal discharge and painful sex. However, even if you don’t experience these symptoms, you should get checked if you’ve experienced an STI.
While you can take antibiotics to treat your PID, the internal damage caused by the disorder is often irreversible. Let your healthcare professional know as soon as possible if you’ve had an STI and experience any of the symptoms, so you can be treated accordingly.
Polyps in the uterus
If you have a uterine polyp, you’re experiencing an overgrowth of cells in the lining of your uterus. According to the Mayo Clinic, while these growths are usually benign, they can be cancerous or become cancerous over time. This condition usually occurs in women going through menopause. Some women with uterine polyps also experience irregular menstrual bleeding, spotting, excessively heavy periods or bleeding after menopause.
However, there’s some good news: If you’re infertile from a uterine polyp, removing the polyp might allow you to get pregnant. The data is still inconclusive, but it’s recommended that you visit your healthcare professional to learn your options.
Endometriosis, according to the American Pregnancy Association, affects more than 7 million women in the U.S. If you have endometriosis, the tissues that line your uterus overgrow and attach to organs outside of the uterus. It can be very painful and, unfortunately, is one of the leading causes of female infertility. Other common signs include painful periods, painful sex, painful bowel movements or urination, and excessive bleeding.
Luckily, treatments for endometriosis are available. It’s most effectively managed when caught it early: If you experience these symptoms, report them to your healthcare professional and discuss your next steps.
An infertility diagnosis can be devastating, for both male and female parties. While investigating the underlying cause, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault, you’re not alone, and you have options. If you need extra support, there are resources available to you. Organizations like Resolve, the National Infertility Association, can help you find an infertility support community or can simply offer online support.