How Can A Woman Get Sterile?


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There are many ways for a woman to become temporarily or permanently infertile (sterile).

For instance, low body weight or anorexia will cause temporary sterility in some women until their weight gets back up.  This happens to many serious female athletes and dancers, as well as women who keep their weight low for reasons of fashion.

A woman may be born sterile for any number of reasons:  A malformed vagina or malformed Fallopian tubes; missing or malformed ovaries, or the presence of benign fibroids blocking her tubes or preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum in her uterus.  A prolapsed uterus or incompetent cervix can make a woman infertile by preventing a fertilized egg from being carried successfully.

A woman may become sterile through infections such as PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) after, say, an appendectomy or after an abdominal infection or sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis.

Menopause causes sterility by ending the release of an egg each month.  Surgery also causes sterility:  Hysterectomy, oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), and salpingectomy (removal of the Fallopian tubes).  A woman may request "tubal ligation," in which the Fallopian tubes are cut and sealed off, so no eggs ever reach the uterus.  This is often called "getting your tubes tied."  Various contraceptives cause temporary sterility:  The pill, the IUD (intra-uterine device), the patch (Norplant), and so on.  

Some women are sterilized by radiation, either from cancer treatment or workplace exposure or repeated pelvic xrays.

Many times there are ways to get around some forms of sterility.  For instance, if a woman's ovaries are okay but her uterus is missing, she and her partner may choose to use her egg for a pregnancy carried by another woman, known as a surrogate.

I am sure a doctor could cover this issue better than I have, but I hope this helps you organize your questions if you are visiting a fertility specialist.  Best wishes,

-- Ankhorite

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