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View Full Version : What would make a woman infertile?



efreysson
09-23-2008, 02:03 AM
As a minor subplot, I mean to have one of the female characters in my fantasy infertile, but I need some help with the cause.

Would an injury that could stop the menstrual cycle be survivable in a low-tech world? Or maybe a poison that she would recover from, aside from that part of her body? I need her to be physically healthy after healing from whatever caused the infertility, but would also prefer that it was caused by hostile action rather than natural illness or a nasty miscarriage.

Judg
09-23-2008, 02:19 AM
Injuries don't normally stop the menstrual cycle, unless the ovaries are lost. That would be an awfully drastic injury. What you need is something that makes the woman incapable of conceiving, which is not the same thing.

Very nasty abuse could do it, by injuring the internal organs. That would definitely qualify as a hostile action.

Infections will often do it, by scarring and blocking the fallopian tubes, so that the ova can no longer descend to the uterus. That would not qualify as a hostile action, mind you, but it would also be less traumatic, therefore less interesting and less likely to turn the subplot into something more. But that is your call, of course.

GLAZE_by_KyrstinMc
09-23-2008, 02:21 AM
Infections, maybe she was forced to eat something toxic that ate away at her insides.

Deccydiva
09-23-2008, 02:26 AM
Polycystic Ovaries. Caused without external factors, just happens. I speak from personal experience, PM me if you want to know more like the woman's possible reactions to it (but there's a ton of info on the internet). In a low-tech world it would probably be undetected.

willfulone
09-23-2008, 02:26 AM
Chemotherapy or radiation can result in infertility. Now, I know you did not want it related to an illness, but you could use this. Like she was just exposed to radiation from a town plant as a youth - before the town became aware of a radiation leak?

ETA: Link

http://www.med.nyu.edu/patientcare/library/article.html?ChunkIID=11867#causes

Click on that link, click on CAUSES link - scroll down. It lists several things (occupational - like exposure to chemicals in work place) and ingestion of medications (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen,
Pain medications, Hormones, Antibiotics, Antidepressants).

There are a lot of things to pick from on that link.

Good luck and hope this helps!

Christine

frimble3
09-23-2008, 04:58 AM
What about starvation? If her weight drops low enough, her menstrual cycle will stop. Not exactly an injury, but could be a hostile action. Say if she was locked up and starved? Then, take her out, feed her up, give her system time to adjust and things should straigten out.

Susan Flemming
09-23-2008, 05:25 AM
Since this is fantasy and you want the resulting infertility to be from a hostile action, would it be possible to have someone your character trusts (but is later exposed as an enemy) to administer a potion designed to inhibit fertility? Perhaps mixed into a daily morning drink or concealed within a candy that is your character's favourite treat; something and someone your character would never suspect.

hammerklavier
09-23-2008, 06:39 AM
Back in the day (you mentioned low tech) infections, childhood diseases and birth defects (ovaries not fully formed) were all big causes.

Entropy Perk
09-23-2008, 07:37 AM
There aren't many things, none that I can think of actually, that could cause infertility in a woman/girl/caused by a hostile action, that would not also kill her. Unless she was poisoned with something in that world that is known to cause such a thing.

Any injury bad enough to destroy a womb/ovaries, would most likely kill her, due to the bleeding. This would include rape.

willfulone
09-23-2008, 07:38 AM
What if low tech was not in the past? Maybe there was high tech at one time? What if certain female babies were selected (for whatever reason) to have a chip implanted while in hospital after birth to stop procreation of certain levels of your races? I mean population control type deal. And she still has hers? Or hers was removed when the planet went low tech, but the damage was done to her reproduction and she still cannot conceive?

You could also have forced sterilization have been a part of her reality for whatever you need in your story. Way back, institutionalized people (not sure if it was mentally handicapped people or others as well, but I know mentally handicapped were) in the US were forcefully sterilized when they reached (I think 15/16) until it was banned. This would be hostile action, without injury you have to explain in depth to thwart your reader disbelief on a possible injury.

Just more thoughts....hope something here works. You have a lot of input.

Good luck!

Christine

Deb Kinnard
09-23-2008, 07:46 AM
Chemotherapy can do it, too. Has she been ill in the past? I see tons of possibilities here, since you're inventing your own reality. Just keep it internally consistent, is all.

Fenika
09-23-2008, 07:51 AM
Try to google 'causes of infertility women' or similar. Tons of lists on what can do it...

L M Ashton
09-23-2008, 03:09 PM
What if low tech was not in the past? Maybe there was high tech at one time? What if certain female babies were selected (for whatever reason) to have a chip implanted while in hospital after birth to stop procreation of certain levels of your races? I mean population control type deal. And she still has hers? Or hers was removed when the planet went low tech, but the damage was done to her reproduction and she still cannot conceive?
Anything that alters hormone levels sufficiently/screws them up can also do the trick. (This one is mine.)


You could also have forced sterilization have been a part of her reality for whatever you need in your story. Way back, institutionalized people (not sure if it was mentally handicapped people or others as well, but I know mentally handicapped were) in the US were forcefully sterilized when they reached (I think 15/16) until it was banned. This would be hostile action, without injury you have to explain in depth to thwart your reader disbelief on a possible injury.
Forced sterilization also took place in Canada. The Inuit women from the Yukon and North West Territories were sterilized without their knowledge or consent whenever they had to go to the hospital in Edmonton, Alberta for other surgical procedures up until about 1970. It was a matter of governmental policy.

In other words, this is common enough for it to be completely believable.

hammerklavier
09-23-2008, 05:29 PM
I'd just thought of that when I read your post. The government of Vietnam sterilizes Montagnard women without their consent. They use a drug that is made by a company here in North Carolina, which is illegal to use in the US.

L M Ashton
09-23-2008, 06:14 PM
You know, I know it happens, but I'm still really pissed off when I hear of more cases of it happening.

Sassee
09-23-2008, 06:14 PM
Infections will often do it, by scarring and blocking the fallopian tubes, so that the ova can no longer descend to the uterus. That would not qualify as a hostile action, mind you, but it would also be less traumatic, therefore less interesting and less likely to turn the subplot into something more. But that is your call, of course.

What kind of infections would do that? Does anyone have an example? Omigod I think I just got an idea...

/runs off to Google

Priene
09-23-2008, 06:37 PM
A blow to the head could do it. If the hypothalamus was damaged, then the flow of luteinizing hormone could stop, and that controls ovulation.

That's my guess, anyway. I'm not a doctor, mind.

ideagirl
09-23-2008, 07:05 PM
Smoking can make a woman infertile--it happened to a friend of mine--though generally it happens over time: she ends up infertile in her early to mid-30s. But smoking could certainly exist in a low-tech world, and perhaps the infertility could hit earlier if you need it to--the earlier she starts smoking, the earlier the infertility could hit. Here's a link giving a basic overview of the problem: http://www.advancedfertility.com/smoking.htm

Because the basic cause is poisoning from cigarette smoke, she could theoretically also become infertile from being around others who smoke. So that could start very early, in childhood, and then if she herself becomes a smoker, voila.

urbanespaceman
09-23-2008, 07:42 PM
Anorexia / Bulimia during adolescence can contribute to this.

Kathie Freeman
09-23-2008, 07:48 PM
It wouldn't have to be starvation or anorexia per se, a lot of extremely athletic girls and young women have their body fat index drop low enough to become temporarily infertile.

Judg
09-24-2008, 12:14 AM
Sassee, sorry, that information isn't stowed away in my trivia trove.

BarbaraKE
09-24-2008, 04:41 AM
Hmm, 'low-tech world'.

Lead was proven to cause infertility in some female pottery workers.

efreysson
09-24-2008, 12:49 PM
Very nasty abuse could do it, by injuring the internal organs. That would definitely qualify as a hostile action.



So, a brutal but survivable beating might can make a woman infertile? She's an assassin, and so in danger of such things. I could use this. Simple and nasty.



Because the basic cause is poisoning from cigarette smoke, she could theoretically also become infertile from being around others who smoke. So that could start very early, in childhood, and then if she herself becomes a smoker, voila.

So what if someone deliberately poisoned her, with the intent to kill? Couldn't I then have her survive the poisoning, but lose the use of her ovaries?

L M Ashton
09-24-2008, 03:20 PM
efreysson, if your setting is another world (made up), then yes, poison would absolutely work. After all, you're creating the poison, you can give the poison whatever attributes you want.

Entropy Perk
09-24-2008, 03:49 PM
So, a brutal but survivable beating might can make a woman infertile? She's an assassin, and so in danger of such things. I could use this. Simple and nasty.

No. Any type of injury bad enough to ruin her ovaries or womb, the internal bleeding from it would most likely kill her. If the bleeding didn't, then, the inevitable infection from the burst/torn/ripped/crushed organs, in her already weakened condition, most likely would finish her off.

Poison is a good option, as already mentioned.

Are there magic users/healers in your world? If so, she could be attacked/beaten and not brought to one of them in time to save her damaged organ, thus rendered infertile.

willfulone
09-24-2008, 03:53 PM
What kind of infections would do that? Does anyone have an example? Omigod I think I just got an idea...

/runs off to Google

PID (pelvic inflamatory disease), HPV (veneral warts - human pampwhatever it is called virus) both are viruses/infections that cause infertility. Usually because they produce no symptoms until they have progressed and can be found on a pap. By then, it can be too late. There are others, but those are two I come up with immediately.

ColoradoGuy
09-24-2008, 06:10 PM
What kind of infections would do that? Does anyone have an example? Omigod I think I just got an idea...

/runs off to Google

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (aka PID) (http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm#howget) from gonorrhea or chlamyda is a common cause.

Horseshoes
09-25-2008, 07:46 AM
In other words, the hostiles (one or more of whom is carrying the STD) rape her.

Leva
09-25-2008, 05:34 PM
Chlamydia would do it, and in a low tech world it would be basically incurable.

Alternately, there's some very interesting things that can happen with the chromosomes that would lead to a woman being infertile. She may or may not menstruate, depending.

efreysson
09-26-2008, 03:50 AM
Thanks for the help, everyone. I'm going to go with a poisoning. It seems like the most logical choice to suit my purposes.

Judg
09-26-2008, 05:39 AM
So, a brutal but survivable beating might can make a woman infertile? She's an assassin, and so in danger of such things. I could use this. Simple and nasty.
No, I'm afraid not. You'd need something much nastier. I met someone who survived some pretty horrific abuse and they thought she wouldn't be able to bear a child to term. She lost a few, but managed to have two.

But you're talking about rape with things longer, harder and nastier than a man's natural equipment.

ideagirl
09-26-2008, 05:28 PM
So what if someone deliberately poisoned her, with the intent to kill? Couldn't I then have her survive the poisoning, but lose the use of her ovaries?

Not that I know of. When people survive ingesting poisonous substances, the damaged organs are the ones involved in cleansing the blood--liver, kidneys. When people survive inhaling poisons, it's the lungs that are damaged. I've never heard of a poison that would damage the ovaries that badly and yet leave the person alive.

GeorgeK
09-30-2008, 07:10 AM
What kind of infections would do that? Does anyone have an example? Omigod I think I just got an idea...

/runs off to Google

Google Pelvic Inflammatory disease. Pretty much any of the STD's can do it, along with TB and a bunch of geographically specific stuff. Chlamydia is a big one. Today people get treated usually before things get to that point, but in a low tech society it can become rampant, particularly with rampaging hoodlums of invading armies taking their privileges with the local women. Oh wait, that was another thread.