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Female Infertility Risk Factors

Your chance for pregnancy may be lower if you have any of these female fertility risk factors

Infertility is an inability to conceive due to some male or female disease process. Unfortunately, many people have trouble getting pregnant. Estimates from recent studies suggest that over 7 million people in the United States struggle with infertility. There are lifestyle changes that people can make to improve their current fertility or protect future fertility.

The following things can affect your chance of getting pregnant.

Age: Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Unfortunately, with time the number of eggs goes down. Those that remain in the ovaries are often of lower quality – leading to an increase in the risks of both infertility and miscarriage.

Stress: Although there is neither a scale that accurately measures stress nor a level of stress that has been determined to be acceptable, it is well recognized that excess stress can lead to infertility. It is also understood that each of us responds to stress differently. We advise all patients who are concerned about either the level of stress in their life or how they or their partner are responding to that stress to consider seeking psychological counseling. Other stress reducing techniques such as exercise, acupuncture, yoga, and attending support groups have also been demonstrated to be helpful.

Lifestyle choices that may affect the chance of getting pregnant

Smoking: In addition to causing many other health problems, smoking hastens menopause in women and causes low sperm counts in men. Tobacco use causes the eggs to be lost from the ovaries at a faster rate than in non-smokers. This brings on menopause at an earlier age, and reduces the window of fertility for a woman. Smoking also increases the risk of problems during pregnancy like early delivery, babies being born severely underweight, tubal pregnancy and others. Not to mention, there are health issues for children who grow up in a household with a smoker.

Alcohol: In generally, alcohol use can result in fertility problems for both men and women. When you are trying to conceive, you should either severely limit – or preferably avoid – alcohol consumption. In addition, once you become pregnant, alcohol should be avoided completely because there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption.

Caffeine: Studies have shown us that fertility declines by up to 50% in women who consume more than 500mg of caffeine per day. Even at a dose of 200mg of caffeine, there is a significant reduction in fertility as well as an increase in the miscarriage rate. We recommend that you minimize your caffeine intake while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

Unprotected intercourse prior to attempting conception: Not protecting yourself during intercourse can result in contraction of sexually transmitted disease. Infections such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia can cause infertility.

Weight and Exercise: Having a weight that is outside the normal body mass index (BMI) range can result in hormonal abnormalities affecting reproduction in both men and women.

Environmental factors: Exposure to some chemicals, radiation, or heat may reduce fertility in both women and men.