What Causes Female Infertility?

Updated: Jan 10

Author: Belinda Lin

Editor: Jasleen Matharu and Megan Liu

Artist: Jennifer Hu

Have you heard of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, aka PCOS? Well, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. Over 12% of American women suffer from this syndrome at the age of reproduction, with over 26% worldwide. This syndrome is when several cysts are growing on the ovaries.

There are four types of PCOS: insulin-resistant PCOS, pill-induced PCOS, inflammatory PCOS, and hidden PCOS.

Insulin-resistant PCOS is most common, resulting from smoking, air pollution, and trans fat. Long-term exposure to these factors increases insulin levels, possibly resulting in type 2 diabetes and an abnormal glucose tolerance test. These factors can cause the ovaries to create testosterone, producing more facial hair and preventing ovulation. Hence, the first step for preventing insulin-resistant PCOS is reducing sugar intake or taking an alternative: inositol. Consequently, having prolonged menstrual cycles can improve this PCOS, but it may be a slow process.

Pill-induced PCOS is the second most common type of PCOS, and is caused from the intake of birth control pills suppressing ovulation. While some continue ovulating after taking the pill, many do not ovulate for years after using it. Although this type of PCOS is temporary, one should consult with a doctor if they had regular periods before and started having abnormal periods upon coming off birth control pills.

Inflammatory PCOS is caused by the imbalance of hormones and the production of androgens, which are crucial for male reproduction and secondary sexual characteristics, such as facial hair. The inflammation is a result of external stresses and dietary factors, such as an increase in gluten consumption. Luckily, dietary factors can be regulated by decreasing the consumption of dairy, sugar and wheat, and taking magnesium supplements as an anti-inflammatory effect.

Hidden PCOS is the simplest form of PCOS, and it only takes three to four months to resolve this syndrome. This type of PCOS can be induced by thyroid disease, iodine deficiency, vegetarian diets, and artificial sweeteners.

 

Citations:

“Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Pcos).” Johns Hopkins Medicine,

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos.

“Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Pcos).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and

Research, 3 Oct. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/diagnosis-treatment/drc-

20353443.

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