Female Infertility

Nursing Knowledge

Female Infertility

Female factor infertility, affecting approximately 10% of women of reproductive age, encompasses a range of medical conditions that impair a woman’s ability to conceive. Key causes include ovulatory disorders, fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, and uterine or cervical issues. Nurses may identify signs of infertility, guide patients through diagnostic processes, offer emotional support, and assist in navigating fertility treatment options.
Last updated: January 16, 2024

Table of contents

What causes infertility in women? 

The causes of female infertility are: 

  • Ovulatory dysfunction (25%)
  • Endometriosis (15%)
  • Pelvic adhesions (12%)
  • Tubal blockage and other tubal abnormalities (11% each)
  • Unexplained cases (10%) 
  • Hyperprolactinemia (7%)
  • Other causes (9%):
    • Infections
    • Developmental abnormalities
    • Endometrial or myometrial tumors
    • Cervical mucus changes (dry, sticky, thick)
    • Antisperm antibodies
    • Vaginal changes (acidity, inflammation)

Signs of infertility in women 

Diagnosis of infertility is based on age and duration of inability to conceive.

For clients below 35 years old, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. For clients over 35 years old, it is the inability to conceive after 6 months of unprotected intercourse. 

Types of infertility

Primary infertility is the inability to conceive or difficulty with conceiving in one who has never been pregnant. Secondary infertility is the inability to achieve or difficulty with achieving a pregnancy after having had a successful pregnancy.

How to assess female clients presenting with infertility

History and physical examination

  • Medical history (including GYN and OB), sexual development, severe systemic illness or trauma, infections, surgical procedures, drugs and environmental toxins, sexual history, duration of infertility
  • Complete physical exam including pelvic exam; assess for obesity, endocrine disorders, general health

Ultrasound of pelvis

Examine the pelvis via ultrasound to rule out structural issues.

Endocrine testing

Endocrine testing assesses estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, TSH,

and additional labs as indicated.


Patency of tubes should be assessed to rule out tubal blockage or other abnormalities. 

Postcoital test

A postcoital test can evaluate if sperm are alive after being exposed to the vaginal environment. 

Hysteroscopy or laparoscopy

Structural issues should be ruled out. 

How to support female clients experiencing infertility

  • Provide clear information about potential causes and stress the importance of medical evaluation by specialists
  • Acknowledge the emotional impact of infertility and offer empathetic listening and validation
  • Advise on lifestyle choices that may enhance fertility and inform on fertility treatments 
  • Refer to support services like counseling or support groups 
  • Encourage partner support 
  • Guide in decision-making by educating about the choices and implications of different treatments (financial, physical, emotional aspects) 


Female Infertility

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Nursing Cheat Sheet

Overview of female causes of infertility, definitions, and initial assessment.

Master the topic with a unique study combination of a concise summary paired with video lectures. 

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