Authored by Revere Health

Infertility Causes and Treatments

February 25, 2019 | OB/GYN

Infertility describes the inability to conceive or carry a baby to term. Although the terms infertility and sterility sometimes appear interchangeable, sterility refers specifically to an inability to conceive, where infertility can also include repeated miscarriages or giving birth to stillborn babies.

Infertility can be a heartbreaking and frustrating condition, but you don’t have to give up on the prospect of motherhood or fatherhood if you and your partner have an infertility diagnosis. There are treatment options available that may help you successfully start a family.

Causes of Infertility

Sometimes, there is no discernible cause of infertility. In other cases, either the male or female (or even both partners) have an issue that contributes to their inability to conceive. Approximately two-thirds of the time, only one of the partners has a condition that causes a couple’s infertility.

Female-specific causes of infertility include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Blockage or damage to the fallopian tubes
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Abnormalities of the cervix or uterus
  • Early menopause
  • Pelvic Adhesions

A man may become infertile due to genetic diseases, structural abnormalities or sexual problems that inhibit the delivery of sperm. Certain health problems, genetic defects or other issues may negatively affect both the quality and quantity of sperm produced. Overexposure to the following environmental factors may also lead to infertility in men:

  • Heat
  • Certain medications
  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Chemicals such as pesticides

Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, may affect fertility in both males and females, and cancers specifically affecting the reproductive tract may lead to infertility as well. Other risk factors in both men and women include the following:

  • Being over or underweight
  • Consumption of alcohol and/or tobacco
  • Age; fertility tends to decline in both men and women after age 40

Behavior modifications, such as quitting smoking, abstaining from alcohol, avoiding frequent exposure to heat and maintaining a healthy weight, may help increase your chances of conceiving. Some contributors to infertility, however, require medical intervention.

Available Treatments

Treatments for infertility vary depending on what is causing it. For example:

  • If the issue is ovulation disorder, your doctor may recommend medication to induce your ovaries to produce an egg.
  • If the issue is a blockage in either your own or your partner’s reproductive tract that prevents the egg and sperm from joining, surgery may be able to correct the blockage and allow nature to take its course.
  • Other, or unknown, causes of infertility may warrant in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which laboratory technicians join the egg and sperm outside of the body for later transfer to the uterus. IVF involves health risks, which your doctor should discuss with you beforehand.

Make an appointment with an obstetrician to discuss possible infertility treatment options. During this difficult time, it is important for you and your partner to support and understand one another.

Breastfeeding Don’ts

Breastfeeding is like any other skill; you probably won’t do it perfectly the first time, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Here are some things to try to avoid.

1. Don’t bring the breast to your baby

In other words, don’t lean forward in order to put your breast within the baby’s reach. Holding such an awkward position for an extended period of time will tire you out quickly. Instead, bring your baby to your breast by cradling him or her close to your body.

2. Don’t remove your baby from your breast without first releasing the suction

Do this by taking your finger and inserting it into the corner of the baby’s mouth.

3. Don’t try to make your baby stick to a schedule

Your baby knows better than you do when he or she needs to eat and how much, so follow your baby’s lead. Don’t try to force your baby to nurse at certain times, don’t release your baby from the breast before he or she is finished and if your baby shows no interest in the second breast, don’t force the issue.   Above all else, be patient. Your doctor or a lactation consultant can help you learn how to breastfeed properly, and you and your baby will work as a team to figure it out as you go. Most mothers ultimately find breastfeeding to be well worth the effort.

The obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives, including puberty, child-bearing years, menopause and beyond.



“Infertility.” National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

“Infertility – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic.

“Treating Infertility.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.




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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.