Female sterility or female infertility, otherwise known as infecundity or Esterilidad Femenina in medical circles is more of a biological condition than a disease. In this condition, the female is unable to conceive due to a number of factors from malfunctioning of the genitals to inadequate structure of the sexual organs, hormonal imbalances, anovulation, infrequent intercourse and many other environmentally induced causes.
To understand female sterility, one must be conversant of all the biological processes leading up to pregnancy in a female. These are numerous and interrelated processes and a problem at any stage is likely to prevent pregnancy. Normally, a female ovulates a mature egg that will be fertilized by the sperm after intercourse to produce and embryo. The sperm has an arduous task of travelling up to the end of the fallopian tube where fertilization occurs. Obstacles, which could be immunological, chemical or physical, could prevent the sperm from reaching the ovum. Even after the egg has been fertilized into an embryo, it has to travel along the fallopian tube up to the uterus for implantation. In this journey, obstacles could also occur that will prevent successful implantation onto the endometrium which is the mucous membrane which lines the endometrium. Through this whole process, several problems that could arise leading to infertility are analysed. There are two types of infertility, generally speaking. One type affects women who lack an ovarian function and the other affects women with faulty or abnormal ovarian function.
Just like there is existence of chromosomal abnormalities, the ovaries of a woman may not be normal. Normal ovaries in a woman may stop functioning long before she hits menopause. The usual age for menopause is 45. If this occurs between ages 40 and 45 then it is premature menopause and if before 40 then it’s a case of premature ovarian failure. Some cancers may also require removal of ovaries (oophorectomy) or deactivation (radiation castration) in radiotherapy.
In the case of women with abnormally functioning ovary, there are a number of possibilities. First, the number of good quality oocytes may be exhausted (occult ovarian failure) and the woman will not respond well to infertility treatment. Another case is when the female does not ovulate properly due to hormonal imbalances a condition called polycystic syndrome. The woman stays for long without amenorrhea or menstruation as is the case in a hormonal disorder called hyperprolactinemia.