Female Infertility

Find out whether you should seek help

Infertility

Female Infertility

Normal fertility

At the beginning of each menstrual cycle the pituitary gland in the brain releases a hormone which stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles.  One of these follicles grows faster than the others to become the 'dominant follicle'.  It is from this follicle that an egg will be released each month at ovulation.

During this monthly cycle the ovaries produce several hormones, most importantly oestrogen, which promotes growth of the follicles, and progesterone, released after ovulation, which prepares the uterus for pregnancy.

After ovulation, the egg passes through the fallopian tubes to meet one of the sperm cells swimming towards it.  Fertilisation occurs when a sperm cell penetrates the outer layer of the egg.  The fertilised egg continues to the uterus and pregnancy begins when it implants in the lining (known as the endometrium).  If the egg is not fertilised, or the embryo does not progress, the endometrium is shed as a menstrual period approximately 14 days after ovulation.

Infertility

Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive despite regular unprotected intercourse for 12 months.  However, investigations for infertility may start earlier than this, particularly if menstrual cycles are irregular or absent.

Infertility is classified into two types:

  • Primary infertility, in couples who have never conceived despite prolonged attempts
  • Secondary infertility, in couples who have previously conceived but are now having difficulty

Please try our fertility questionnaire to see whether you should seek help

Common causes of infertility in women

The London Women's Clinic Wales' principal objective when assessing patients is to determine the cause of infertility and to make recommendations about the most appropriate treatments.

Ovulatory disorders

Ovulatory disorders are a common cause of female infertily, often evident as very light, irregular or absent periods (known as amenorrhoea).  Ovulatory problems are often associated with a common condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which may also be evident in increased body and facial hair, acne and obesity.

Fallopian tube damage

Damage to the cells lining the tube may prevent sperm reaching the egg, or the fertilised egg reaching the uterus.  This may increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants in the tube rather than the uterus.

Other conditions, such as endometriosis, may cause infertility, but the good news today is that almost all the known causes are amenable to treatment - and that most women can be helped by fertility treatment to have a baby.

Information on fertility investigations

The side effects of treatment

Fortunately, side effects from the treatment of infertility are rare.  The fertility drugs used to simulate ovulation may cause an over-reaction known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is most commonly seen in younger women and those with polycystic ovaries.  Ultrasound monitoring during the drug treatment phase of IVF is necessary to check each patient's response and avoid the risks.

The other major 'risk' of fertility treatment is a multiple pregnancy, which may cause neonatal problems for both mother and baby.  The risks of low birth weight and prematurity are both increased in multiple pregnancies and it's our policy at the London Women's Clinic Wales to do all we can to ensure a singleton delivery.

Counselling

Counselling is an essential part of infertility services today.  We are sensitive to the emotions of each infertile couple and the stress of the treatment itself.  Counselling is available to all patients at the London Women's Clinic Wales, with the first session free of charge.  We offer implications counselling, which is compulsory where gamete donation is involved, and confidential support counselling.

Infertility

Female Infertility

Normal fertility

At the beginning of each menstrual cycle the pituitary gland in the brain releases a hormone which stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles.  One of these follicles grows faster than the others to become the 'dominant follicle'.  It is from this follicle that an egg will be released each month at ovulation.

During this monthly cycle the ovaries produce several hormones, most importantly oestrogen, which promotes growth of the follicles, and progesterone, released after ovulation, which prepares the uterus for pregnancy.

After ovulation, the egg passes through the fallopian tubes to meet one of the sperm cells swimming towards it.  Fertilisation occurs when a sperm cell penetrates the outer layer of the egg.  The fertilised egg continues to the uterus and pregnancy begins when it implants in the lining (known as the endometrium).  If the egg is not fertilised, or the embryo does not progress, the endometrium is shed as a menstrual period approximately 14 days after ovulation.

Infertility

Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive despite regular unprotected intercourse for 12 months.  However, investigations for infertility may start earlier than this, particularly if menstrual cycles are irregular or absent.

Infertility is classified into two types:

  • Primary infertility, in couples who have never conceived despite prolonged attempts
  • Secondary infertility, in couples who have previously conceived but are now having difficulty

Please try our fertility questionnaire to see whether you should seek help

Common causes of infertility in women

The London Women's Clinic Wales' principal objective when assessing patients is to determine the cause of infertility and to make recommendations about the most appropriate treatments.

Ovulatory disorders

Ovulatory disorders are a common cause of female infertily, often evident as very light, irregular or absent periods (known as amenorrhoea).  Ovulatory problems are often associated with a common condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which may also be evident in increased body and facial hair, acne and obesity.

Fallopian tube damage

Damage to the cells lining the tube may prevent sperm reaching the egg, or the fertilised egg reaching the uterus.  This may increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants in the tube rather than the uterus.

Other conditions, such as endometriosis, may cause infertility, but the good news today is that almost all the known causes are amenable to treatment - and that most women can be helped by fertility treatment to have a baby.

Information on fertility investigations

The side effects of treatment

Fortunately, side effects from the treatment of infertility are rare.  The fertility drugs used to simulate ovulation may cause an over-reaction known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is most commonly seen in younger women and those with polycystic ovaries.  Ultrasound monitoring during the drug treatment phase of IVF is necessary to check each patient's response and avoid the risks.

The other major 'risk' of fertility treatment is a multiple pregnancy, which may cause neonatal problems for both mother and baby.  The risks of low birth weight and prematurity are both increased in multiple pregnancies and it's our policy at the London Women's Clinic Wales to do all we can to ensure a singleton delivery.

Counselling

Counselling is an essential part of infertility services today.  We are sensitive to the emotions of each infertile couple and the stress of the treatment itself.  Counselling is available to all patients at the London Women's Clinic Wales, with the first session free of charge.  We offer implications counselling, which is compulsory where gamete donation is involved, and confidential support counselling.

How can we help you?

Telephone 02920 236 301 (8:30am to 5:30pm) to find out how to get started, or use the contact form below.

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