Female Infertility | OB-GYN


Female Infertility

Your fertility journey is unique, and we’re here to support you with compassion. We work with leading fertility centers to offer the most advanced treatments.

Medically reviewed by Clara Paik, M.D. on Oct. 12, 2023.

Female patient speaking with her female provider in an exam room

What Is Infertility?

Infertility is not being able to get pregnant after at least a year of trying (or six months of trying if you are age 35 and over).  Some hormone and reproductive health problems may not prevent you from becoming pregnant (conception). However, they may lead to repeated pregnancy loss.

At UC Davis Health’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN), our specialists understand how difficult and emotional infertility can be. We collaborate with researchers and medical center partners to provide a comprehensive range of infertility services.


Symptoms of Infertility and Reproductive Health Problems

If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for at least a year, this is the clearest sign of infertility.

You may or may not have symptoms of underlying reproductive health problems.

Common Symptoms

Signs of possible reproductive health problems include:

Emergency Symptoms

Call 911 or get medical care right away if you experience:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Severe lower abdominal pain

Causes of Infertility

Women and men can have reproductive health problems that cause infertility. Sometimes infertility causes are unknown.

Common causes that contribute to infertility in women include:


Endometriosis happens when uterine tissue grows outside your uterus. This condition can make it more difficult to get pregnant.

Fallopian Tube Conditions

A blockage or scarring in your fallopian tubes can prevent an egg from reaching your uterus and becoming fertilized.

Ovarian Conditions

If you have irregular periods or are not ovulating (releasing an egg with each menstrual cycle), you may need treatment to become pregnant. Conditions such as premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), where you stop producing eggs at an early age, can lead to infertility. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is another condition that may cause ovulation problems and infertility.

Uterine Conditions

Growths in your uterus, such as fibroids or polyps, can cause infertility. Problems with the structure of your uterus also may affect your fertility.


Infertility Risk Factors

Risk factors are things that increase your chances of infertility. Be sure to talk about your risk with your provider, especially if you face risk factors such as:


Your fertility decreases as you get older.


Smoking increases your risk of infertility.


Being overweight or underweight increases your risk of infertility.


Diagnosing Causes of Infertility

Diagnosing infertility starts with discussing your health history with your fertility specialist. You will also have a pelvic exam to check for problems that may be affecting your fertility. 


You may need additional tests and scans. Our reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists use leading-edge technology to pinpoint the cause of your infertility.

Possible diagnostic tests include:

  • Blood tests to check your hormone levels and look for signs of conditions that may affect your fertility.
  • Hysteroscopy or laparoscopy, scoping tests that use tiny cameras to allow your provider to see inside your uterus or examine other organs for problems.
  • Scans such as ultrasound to check the structures of your reproductive organs for blockages or other problems.

Treatments for Infertility

Infertility can be stressful and emotional, and we’re here to provide compassionate care and effective treatments. Our reproductive endocrinology and infertility team uses the most advanced research and techniques to give you the fertility help you need.

Our services are inclusive, and we welcome same-sex couples who need help conceiving.


We participate in programs that provide healthy donated eggs, embryos and sperm.


We provide intrauterine insemination (IUI), where we inject sperm into your uterus for egg fertilization.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

There are many steps to IVF. It starts with fertility medications that help your ovaries make more eggs. Then your fertility specialist removes the eggs and combines them with sperm in a lab. Your specialist implants one or more fertilized eggs (embryos) in your uterus.


You may need medications to treat hormone imbalances, help with egg production or treat other fertility problems.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Treatment

We have a team of endocrinologists who specialize in treating PCOS, which causes hormone imbalances that contribute to infertility.

Tubal Ligation Reversal

If you had tubal ligation (tubes tied), we use the most advanced techniques in the field for reversing this procedure.


Our OB-GYN surgeons use the latest minimally invasive techniques. We perform procedures such as fallopian tube reconstructive surgery and fibroid removal. We also do surgery to correct uterine anomalies, which happens when your uterus develops into an abnormal shape.

Infertility affects

1 in 6Adults worldwide

PCOS affects at least

5MWomen in the U.S.

Sources: World Health Organization: 1 in 6 People Globally Affected by Infertility: WHO

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes

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