Raising Awareness on Women’s Day:

Top Causes of Women’s Infertility


At Cape Fertility, we have a deep appreciation of how important and unique women are, with their beautiful ability to conceive and carry a child. Our team is passionate about helping women facing fertility challenges to also experience the joy of having their own baby. For this reason, we would like to raise awareness this Women’s Day about the top causes of infertility among women, and what to do if these medical conditions are preventing you from falling pregnant.

At Cape Fertility, we know that among the women who visit us for fertility treatment, the most common causes of their infertility challenges are blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, fibroids and ovulation problems.

With this article, we hope to raise awareness of what each one of these medical conditions are and how each one affects fertility, and how to find out whether any of these conditions are preventing you from conceiving.

Blocked Fallopian Tubes

Fertilization normally happens in the fallopian tubes. Essentially, a fallopian tube is the pathway that allows the egg and the sperm to meet and for fertilisation to take place so an embryo is formed. This means that without functional fallopian tubes, natural conception is not possible, and is a common cause of infertility.

Stretching from the uterus to the ovaries, the fallopian tubes are tiny, delicate tubes responsible for transporting eggs or embryos from the ovaries to the uterus. For natural conception to take place, the fallopian tube needs to have a normal structure inside and out, must be open all along its length, and must be able to move around freely.

While most people have heard of “blocked” fallopian tubes, it is not the only medical problem that can affect the fallopian tubes and their functioning.

Fallopian tubes can be blocked for a number of different reasons, but they can also be damaged or swollen, or there could be damage to the actual structure of the tube. There are many common causes of damage to the fallopian tubes, including surgery or internal infection, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and endometriosis.

All of these possibilities will prevent the tube from moving around freely or from moving the egg or embryo successfully along the tube, resulting in difficulty conceiving without assistance.

Read more about the tests and investigations that can be done to determine if problems with your fallopian tubes are causing your infertility here.


Endometriosis is a very common disease that can start at any age, and up to 10% of all women have endometriosis.

This disease involves the lining of the uterus growing outside of the uterus, most often at the back of uterus or around the ovaries or on other organs.

There are different stages of the disease, ranging from minimal to severe. Most women have minimal or mild endometriosis, characterised by superficial implants and mild adhesions. Moderate and severe endometriosis is characterised by chocolate cysts and more severe adhesions. These growths may be as small as a pea or grow larger than a grapefruit.

A very common symptom of endometriosis is infertility – in fact, endometriosis affects between 25 and 40% of women facing fertility challenges.

This is because endometriosis can cause inflammation and scar tissue and can also grow on or in the ovary, all of which will negatively affect fertility.

The inflammation endometriosis causes can interfere with a woman’s ovulation. Endometriosis can also cause anatomical abnormalities such as scarring that can reduce the chances of conceiving by, for example, preventing the fallopian tubes from picking up the egg from the ovary during ovulation. Endometriosis can also grow on the surface of the ovary or invade the ovary and develop a blood-filled cyst often called a “chocolate cyst”.

There are various treatment options for endometriosis, including medical treatment; surgery or laparoscopy; and assisted reproductive therapies (ART) such as IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation). You can read more about our unique patient-centred approach to endometriosis treatment at Cape Fertility here.


Fibroids are also non-cancerous, benign growths like endometriosis, but fibroids involve the growth of the muscle cells in the uterus. Fibroids can be microscopic in size or can grow to weigh many kilograms, filling the entire uterus.

Fibroids are common among women during their 30s and 40s through menopause. In fact, as many 20% women may have fibroids during their childbearing years, and 50% of all women have fibroids by age 50. Thankfully, fibroids often shrink and cause no symptoms in women who have gone through menopause.

If you are trying to conceive, however, fibroids can be a very real challenge. A uterus with fibroids is not conducive to growth and development of an embryo. This is because an embryo must implant in the endometrial layer of the uterus and draw essential nutrients from it. For this to be possible, the uterine lining (endometrium) must be thick and vascular.

Fibroids that grow directly below the uterine lining take up space and limit blood supply to an embryo, which can prevent pregnancy or cause miscarriages.

Fortunately, fibroids can be treated very effectively, and this can assist you in achieving a pregnancy.

Ovulation Problems

Ovulation problems are quite common in general, and they are also among the top common causes of infertility among women.

Ovulation problems refers to when periods become abnormal or irregular, or very short or very long in duration. For example, instead of five days, a period could last for 10 days or two weeks or even longer. A woman’s periods can also be irregular, for example, only one every second month, or just three or four in a year. All of these irregularities are all typical symptoms of ovulation problems.

There are different causes of ovulation problems, but the most common cause of ovulation problems – in about 80% of cases – is polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. Other causes of ovulation problems include early menopause, thyroid problems, a dysfunction of the pituitary gland, and even taking certain medications.

The good news is that all of these causes of ovulation problems can be treated successfully. In many of cases, treatment can help restore ovulation and advanced treatments such as IVF are not always required.

Are one of these common causes preventing you from falling pregnant?

If you are facing fertility challenges in achieving a pregnancy and you suspect that one of these four common causes of infertility among women – blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, fibroids, and ovulation problems – may be the cause, we would like to invite you to come and meet one of our specialists at Cape Fertility by clicking here…

This is important because there is only one way to know for certain what the exact cause of your fertility challenges is and that is an initial consultation with a fertility specialist.

Once you know what the cause of your fertility challenges is, you can find out not only what treatments are available, but also which is the best for you and your unique circumstances. We offer all the most effective fertility treatments including successful treatment for blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, fibroids and ovulation problems, at our purpose-built clinic, in the Claremont Medical Village in Cape Town.

At Cape Fertility, we value each individual patient and we look forward to providing you with individualised and personalised care, affordable quality fertility treatment, and higher success rates that ensure even more of our patients can experience the joy of have their own baby.