Health issues that may make you infertile


THE prospect of having a baby is one of the most exciting things for a woman. But the thought of medical complications that lie between conception and giving birth to a healthy child causes considerable worries for many women. If you are planning to have a baby, it’s important to inform yourself about the various female reproductive issues you may be confronted with.


Some degree of discomfort can be expected in any normal pregnancy. It’s very likely that you’ll experience any or several of the following:

¦ Back pain.

¦ Fatigue and insomnia.

¦ Feeling nauseous, hot and faint.

¦ Vaginal cramps, bleeding and discharges.

¦ Constipation, excessive urination and incontinence (lack of voluntary control over urination).

¦ Indigestion and heartburn.

¦ Swollen fingers, feet and ankles.


Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that develop in the muscle tissue of the uterus. While some women may have no symptoms, others will suffer from heavy or painful menstrual bleeding, lower back ache, frequent urination and pain during sexual intercourse. Depending on their size and location, fibroids can cause infertility. After diagnosing the fibroids, your doctor may prescribe medication to shrink them or temporarily stop their growth or recommend to remove them surgically. If a large fibroid is blocking the opening of your uterus towards the end of a pregnancy, birth via Caesarean section may be required.


When the tissue that normally lines your uterus grows in areas outside of the uterus, this is referred to as endometriosis. It occurs in about six to 10 per cent of women and is known to be a common cause of infertility. Many sufferers don’t display any obvious symptoms, but some may complain of diarrhoea, bloating, strong pelvic pain, constipation and chronic fatigue. While the cause is unknown and there is no cure for the condition, treatment options (medication and surgery) are available to help with the pain and to improve fertility.


These small, fluid-filled sacs commonly form around the ovaries. In most cases, they are harmless and benign (not cancerous). Abdominal pain, gradually spreading to the lower back and thighs, along with vomiting and queasiness are among the symptoms. On the few occasions on which a cyst turns out to be malignant (infectious), it needs to be removed. There are some types of ovarian cysts which can be associated with decreased fertility. These are caused by endometriosis and cysts that are the result of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which occurs in women whose ovaries produce elevated amounts of hormones called androgens. Ovarian cysts can also develop during pregnancy and although they seldom cause complications, they should be carefully monitored. Most will naturally shrink in size and only in rare cases where they threaten to interfere with the pregnancy will they be removed surgically.


There are several medical conditions which you may experience during your pregnancy, including: 

¦ Pre-eclampsia

A complex condition that is indicated by a rise in blood pressure and an increase in protein in the urine. Pre-eclampsia is not usually a cause for concern. However, if left untreated, it can develop into eclampsia and lead to seizures that may threaten your life and that of your baby.

Ectopic pregnancy

This happens when a fertilised egg accidentally implants outside the uterus, most frequently in a Fallopian tube. Since there is no way of transplanting the egg into the uterus, the only option is to terminate the pregnancy as soon as possible. Signs of an ectopic pregnancy include lower abdominal, pelvic and shoulder pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness and slight, irregular vaginal bleeding that is often brownish in colour.

Placenta previa

This describes a situation in which the placenta lies unusually low in the uterus, next to or covering the cervix. Your doctor will monitor the position of the placenta through ultrasound scans as your pregnancy progresses. In the rare instance where it remains dangerously low towards the latter stages, delivery by Caesarean section is necessary.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

This is an infection caused by inflammation in the uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes. This is a common cause of infertility and pregnancy complications, particularly increasing the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes

Between two and 10 per cent of all expectant mothers contract this type of diabetes, which is normally detected by routine glucose-screening tests between 24 and 28 weeks of your pregnancy. Ask your doctor to help you put together a healthy diet and an exercise plan to treat this condition. Medication may also be prescribed.

Placenta abruption

When the placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall, this deprives the foetus of oxygen. Signs of placental abruption include cramping, vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. A few days of bed rest may stop the bleeding, but in more severe cases, complete bed rest or even immediate medical attention and early delivery may be necessary.

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