What Are the Risk Factors for Infertility?
Infertility refers to the inability to conceive a baby after one year or more of regular, unprotected sex. If a female is in their late thirties, infertility should be assessed after half a year. Infertility might define both a woman whose experiencing difficulty conceiving and one who has recurrent miscarriages.
Consult a Winter Park OB/GYN for more information on infertility and other reproductive health issues.
Some of the risk factors for infertility can be changed, but some are unchangeable. The following are some of the risk factors affecting infertility.(1)
The fertility levels of a woman gradually decline with an increase in age. The decline starts to become more pronounced when a woman is in her late thirties. As a woman ages, the quantity and quality of her ova (eggs) reduce. Additionally, men who are above 40 years old are also less fertile than younger males.
- Smoking and Alcohol Use
Smoking or use of alcohol by either a male or female lowers the odds of conceiving. It also negatively impacts the effectiveness of fertility treatments. Women who use tobacco are at a higher risk of miscarriage and tubal pregnancies. Consuming alcohol and smoking can lead to a low sperm count in males.
- Body Weight
The risk of infertility goes up if one does not maintain an active lifestyle, is obese, or is underweight. Men who are overweight might experience lower sperm counts and testosterone levels. Women with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are also at high risk of fertility issues.
- Exercise Habits
Lack of sufficient exercise may contribute to weight gain, which increases the chance of infertility. In rare cases, strenuous and intense exercise routines can impact a female's ovulation patterns. That can cause a lack of menstrual cycles.
- Irregular Menses
Irregular periods are more common in females who are overweight or too thin. It's essential to try to attain a normal weight through healthy lifestyle changes and consulting a gynecologist.
- A History with STIs
Using condoms during intimacy helps to preserve future fertility by inhibiting the spread of infections. It's also essential for couples to get tested for sexually transmitted infections before having sexual intercourse. (2)
In addition to the above points, infertility in women can also result from:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Fallopian tube disease
- Abnormalities in the uterus
- Pelvic surgery
For men, infertility can also be caused by:
- Exposure of the genitalia to high temperatures
- Undescended testicles
- Mumps after adolescence
- Hernia repair
- A genetic problem
What Can One Do to Improve Fertility?
People experiencing fertility problems can take the following measures to improve their fertility:
- Uphold a healthy weight and stay away from extreme dieting techniques.
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
- Stay away from illegal drugs and smoking.
- Take alcohol in moderation or stop the habit completely.
- Exercise regularly, but moderately.
- Avoid exposure to the workplace or environmental toxins.
- Stay away from medications that might affect fertility.
- Limit caffeine consumption.
When to See a Fertility Doctor
Women who are below 35 years and have been actively trying to get pregnant, and haven't used birth control pills for at least one year, should book an appointment with a doctor. Those who are above 35 years should wait six months before seeking help.
At the doctor's office, clients go through several evaluations to determine what might be inhibiting conception. From there, the fertility doctor comes up with a treatment plan. Even if it's not clear why one is not conceiving, they can be treated. The treatment options range from infertility medications to IVF (in vitro fertilization). (3)