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Guide to infertility treatment: Female infertility problems

The Private Healthcare UK guide to infertility treatment contains articles on infertility and IVF treatment which are aimed at improving your knowledge of treatments for infertility, their benefits and potential risks.


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Normal female fertility

Guide to infertility - female reproductive system

“Normal” fertility could be defined as conceiving within a 12 – 15 month period, during which time you are having regular unprotected sex. Of course, you may still become pregnant naturally, but it would be wise to make an appointment with your GP if you could be having difficulty conceiving.

Fertility is a highly complex process and many different factors need to coincide in order for pregnancy to occur. A woman must ovulate, have at least one fully functioning fallopian tube, produce watery mucus by the cervix near the time of ovulation that permits the ejaculated sperm to pass into the uterus from the vagina, and have a uterus that permits implantation of the embryo.

At the beginning of the menstrual cycle the pituitary gland in your brain releases a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the ovary to produce follicles. One of these follicles grows faster to become the "dominant follicle". It is from this follicle that the egg will be released.

The ovaries produce many hormones, most importantly oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen promotes growth of the follicles and development of the endometrium, while progesterone, released after ovulation, prepares the endometrium for pregnancy.

When the egg is released, it is swept into the fallopian tube and then begins to move slowly downwards to be fertilised in the outer third of the tube. The fertilised egg continues to the uterus to implant in the lining ( endometruim ) resulting in a pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilised, the endometium is shed as a menstrual period approximately 14 days after ovulation.


In this guide

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