There are many causes of female infertility, but stomach ulcers aren’t one of them. Early studies found a link between infertility and bacteria that cause ulcers, but more research is needed.

Infertility is not being able to conceive after 1 year of trying. It affects both sexes and is common. A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that about 17.5% of adults worldwide have experienced infertility.

There are many potential causes of infertility. You may have heard that stomach ulcers can lead to infertility in people assigned female at birth.

While stomach ulcers themselves don’t lead to infertility, specific bacteria that causes them may be associated with reduced fertility. Continue reading to learn more.

Stomach ulcers are sores that form in the lining of your stomach. They can cause symptoms like:

It’s estimated that 1–6% of people in the United States have stomach ulcers. The most common causes are infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria or long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Stomach ulcers themselves don’t affect fertility in females. But H. pylori, a common cause of stomach ulcers, has been linked with female infertility.

H. pylori is a type of bacteria. It’s estimated that nearly half of the world’s population has H. pylori. But recent research has found that the rates of infection has been trending downward.

H. pylori infection is an important cause of stomach ulcers and stomach cancers. It’s also been linked with other health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, although data on these associations is limited.

Researchers have also linked H. pylori with infertility. But much of the research into H. pylori and infertility is older. It’s also important to note that a direct link between H. pylori infection and infertility has yet to be established. More research is needed.

Research into H. pylori and female infertility

A 2002 study found that individuals with infertility had a higher rate of infection of H. pylori infection (49.1%) than those who weren’t experiencing infertility (33.5%).

Another 2008 study found that people with no known cause for their infertility had a higher rate of infection of H. pylori than those experiencing infertility who had one or more infertility risk factors. But this difference wasn’t statistically significant.

Studies from 2002 and 2011 found that antibodies to H. pylori in blood, ovarian fluid, or cervical mucus cross-reacted with sperm. Further, a 2016 study saw a higher number of antisperm antibodies in those with H. pylori and stomach disease compared with healthy individuals.

The findings above suggest that these antibodies may contribute to female infertility by inhibiting the progress of sperm. This would make it harder for sperm to fertilize your egg.

Lastly, a 2014 study found that an H. pylori infection, particularly strains expressing CagA, were higher in individuals with infertility disorders. But study researchers also recommended that future studies are needed to examine the potential role of H. pylori on human reproduction.

Research summary: H. pylori infections may be associated with infertility, but more research is needed

Previous research has found higher rates of H. pylori infection in people experiencing infertility. H. pylori infection is also associated with antibodies that may react with sperm. Some research has also linked H. pylori and PCOS.

Overall, research into H. pylori and female infertility is still limited. There’s much we still don’t understand. Additional research into this area is needed to understand if and how H. pylori and infertility are connected.

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There are several other health conditions that can affect fertility in women. These can affect different aspects of the female reproductive system.

Some health conditions interfere with ovulation. When ovulation doesn’t happen, there’s no egg to be fertilized. Health conditions that can affect ovulation include:

A fertilized egg must travel from your fallopian tube to your uterus. Some health conditions can cause your fallopian tubes to become damaged or blocked, preventing this from happening. These include:

Lastly, a fertilized egg needs to implant in your uterus to begin developing. Some health conditions can prevent this from happening properly, such as:

  • uterine fibroids or polyps, noncancerous growths within your uterus
  • congenital changes to the structure of your uterus
  • previous infections that can cause scarring or damage

Stomach ulcers don’t cause infertility in females. But H. pylori, the type of bacteria that’s the main cause of stomach ulcers, has been linked with infertility.

Research has found that people with infertility have higher rates of H. pylori infection. It’s also been observed that those with H. pylori have antibodies that may cross-react with sperm, reducing the likelihood of fertilization.

While a direct link between H. pylori and infertility hasn’t yet been made, there are many known causes of female infertility.

If you’ve been having difficulty conceiving, see a doctor or healthcare professional to discuss your concerns. They can help to determine what may be causing the infertility and can then work with you to develop a plan to boost your chances of conceiving.