What are the causes of infertility or sterility?

What are the causes of infertility or sterility?


Infertility is very common, and if the cause of infertility is identified and addressed, the majority of previously infertile couples are able to conceive successfully. Infertility can affect both men and women, and it can be caused by a range of factors.

Although many people who are clinically infertile can still conceive spontaneously despite these issues, there are a variety of pharmacological and surgical methods available for treating infertility.

Infertility is diagnosed when a man or woman is unable to have a child naturally after engaging in planned, unprotected sexual activity for more than a year. 


Sterility is completely different. Whether by medical or surgical intervention or assisted reproductive technology, a person who is clinically sterile is unable to conceive. A medical condition or surgical operation, such as a vasectomy, hysterectomy, or ectopic pregnancy that results in the loss of a fallopian tube, is the most prevalent cause of sterility. Sterility can also be caused by chromosomal diseases like Kleinfelter’s syndrome.

Sterility refers to the absence of sperm in the sperm of males, and it refers to the absence of ovulation in the case of women. 

Causes of infertility and sterility

To become pregnant, all of the steps during ovulation and fertilisation must be completed correctly. Some disorders that cause infertility in couples are present at birth, while others emerge later in life. One or both partners may be affected by infertility. There are times when no cause can be found.

Causes of male infertility and sterility:

Infections like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, mumps, or HIV can cause abnormal sperm production or function due to undescended testicles, genetic flaws, health issues including diabetes, or infections like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, mumps, or HIV. Varicocele, or enlargement of the veins in the testes, can potentially impact the quality of sperm.

Problems with sperm delivery caused by sexual issues, such as premature ejaculation; specific hereditary illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis; structural issues, such as a testicular obstruction; or damage or injury to the reproductive system.

Pesticides and other chemicals, as well as radiation, can cause overexposure to certain environmental conditions. Cigarette smoking, alcohol, marijuana, anabolic steroids, and antibiotics, as well as high blood pressure and depression, can all have an impact on fertility. Heat exposure, such as that seen in saunas or hot tubs, can boost body temperature and interfere with sperm production.

Testicular infection or orchitis are two disorders that affect the testes that are particularly important. When it occurs during adolescence, parotitis o mumps is also linked to male infertility.

Obesity and stress. Patients who are anxious had a higher frequency of reproduction disorders, according to a recent study in Sweden that looked at stress signals in saliva.

Cancer and its treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy, can cause damage. Cancer treatment can have a significant impact on sperm production.

Causes of female infertility and sterility:

Ovulation abnormalities are problems with egg release from the ovaries. Hormonal abnormalities such as polycystic ovary syndrome are among them. Hyperprolactinemia, or having too much prolactin — the hormone that stimulates breast milk production — can also cause ovulation problems. Thyroid hormone levels that are excessively high (hyperthyroidism) or too low (hypothyroidism) might disrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to infertility. Excessive exercise, eating disorders, and tumours are all possible underlying reasons.

Abnormalities with the cervix, polyps in the uterus, or the shape of the uterus are all examples of uterine or cervical abnormalities. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous (benign) tumours that block the fallopian tubes or prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus, resulting in infertility. Anomalies can be anatomical (septate uterus, T-shaped uterus, etc.) or pathological, causing problems with embryo implantation or pregnancy progression.

Inflammation of the fallopian tube is a common cause of fallopian tube injury or blockage (salpingitis). Pelvic inflammatory illness, which is typically caused by a sexually transmitted infection, endometriosis, or adhesions, can cause this.

Endometriosis affects the function of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes when endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. Endometriosis affects about 40% of women who have trouble getting pregnant.

The most prevalent cause of anovulation is polycystic ovarian syndrome, which produces infrequent or absent periods (an absence of ovulation).

When the ovaries stop working and menstruation stops before the age of 40, this is known as primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause). Although the cause is generally unknown, immune system illnesses, some genetic conditions such as Turner syndrome or carriers of Fragile X syndrome, and radiation or chemotherapy treatment have all been linked to early menopause.

  • Hypothalamic dysfunction: The pituitary gland produces two chemicals that stimulate ovulation each month: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) (LH). Excessive physical or emotional stress, extreme body weight gain or reduction, or a recent significant weight gain or loss can all alter hormone production and impact ovulation. The most prevalent symptoms are irregular or nonexistent menstruation.

  • Too much prolactin: Excess prolactin secretion (hyperprolactinemia) by the pituitary gland lowers oestrogen production and can lead to infertility. It’s also possible that medications you’re taking for another ailment are causing this.

Pelvic adhesions are scar tissue bands that bind organs and can develop as a result of a pelvic infection, appendicitis, endometriosis, or abdominal or pelvic surgery.

The treatment of cancer. Female fertility is frequently harmed by certain diseases, particularly reproductive tumours. Radiation and chemotherapy both have the potential to impact fertility.

  • Damaged or obstructed fallopian tubes prevent sperm from reaching the egg or prevent the fertilised egg from entering the uterus. Damage or obstruction of the fallopian tube can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

    • An infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes caused by chlamydia, gonorrhoea, or other sexually transmitted infections causes pelvic inflammatory disease.

    • Previous abdominal or pelvic surgery, such as surgery for ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilised egg implants and grows elsewhere other than the uterus, generally in a fallopian tube.

  • Uterine or cervical causes

Several uterine or cervical factors can prevent the egg from implanting or raise the chances of miscarriage:

  • In the uterus, benign polyps or tumours (fibroids or myomas) are frequent. Some can obstruct fallopian tubes or prevent implantation, reducing fertility. Many women with fibroids or polyps do, however, become pregnant.

  • Problems with the uterus, such as an abnormally shaped uterus, might make it difficult to get pregnant or bear children.

  • Cervical stenosis is a constriction of the cervix caused by a hereditary abnormality or cervix damage.

  • The cervix doesn’t always create the right type of mucus to allow sperm to pass through and into the uterus.

Combined causes of infertility and sterility

Subfertility is a common problem that can be alleviated or made worse depending on the circumstances of one’s spouse. For a woman who ovulates irregularly, for example, the quality of her partner’s ejaculate and the frequency with which she makes love can either exacerbate or improve her prognosis.


The cause of infertility is sometimes never discovered. Unexpected reproductive issues could be caused by a combination of small variables in both partners. Although it’s aggravating to receive no precise response, this issue will eventually resolve itself. Infertility therapy, on the other hand, should not be put off.


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317

  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16083-infertility-causes

  3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infertility


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