What are your risk factors for infertility?
Take this personal risk assessment to help you understand what the underlying causes of your infertility might be. Answering “yes” to any of the questions below may indicate a risk factor for infertility.
1. Are you over age 35?
Age is an important infertility risk factor, yet one that you cannot control. After age 35, a woman’s fertility potential starts to decline. Then after age 40, the chance of getting pregnant sharply declines. The aging process decreases the number of eggs you have, as well as makes the eggs more susceptible to chromosomal abnormalities. Women over 35 have a higher chance of miscarriage, too.
2. Do you smoke?
Smoking is a serious infertility risk factor, but one that you can change today by stopping smoking. Smoking can damage your fallopian tubes and cervix and make conception more difficult. It also can decrease your egg supply, age your ovaries at a faster rate than normal and even bring about early menopause. If you do get pregnant, studies show that smokers have a greater risk of miscarriage and premature births.
3. Are you overweight?
Fortunately, your weight is typically one fertility risk factor that you can change. Just a BMI (body mass index) 10 to 15 percent above normal can lead to higher levels of estrogen in your body that can disrupt normal ovulation. Additionally, overweight women often have excessive amounts of androgens, as well as insulin, which can disrupt ovulation and make it hard to get pregnant.
4. Are you underweight or have an eating disorder?
On the flip side, women who are underweight are often hypo-estrogenic, which means they don’t produce enough estrogen to ovulate normally. Underweight women are unable to produce the necessary hormones to trigger ovulation, which is essential for conception. Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can also lead to abnormal menstrual cycles and infertility. It’s best to seek professional help right away if you suffer from either condition.
5. Do you exercise excessively?
Studies have shown that excessive and strenuous exercise can lead to irregular periods or no period at all. It is not uncommon for dancers, professional athletes and runners to have ovulation problems. Cutting back on exercise may resolve this infertility risk factor, so talk with your doctor.
6. Do you have a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
STDs such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia are common infertility risk factors that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if left untreated. PID can result in complications such as scarring, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and blocked fallopian tubes – all of which can adversely affect your chances of getting pregnant.
7. Do you have irregular periods or experience bleeding or spotting between periods?
Ovulation is essential to getting pregnant. If you don’t have a period, or if your cycles are more than 35 days apart or less than 25 days apart, you may have an ovulatory disorder, one of the leading cause of infertility. Even if you do experience normal periods, you still may have problems ovulating. Abnormal bleeding or spotting between periods should also be taken into consideration as part of your infertility risk assessment. Any sort of unexplained bleeding could signal hormonal problems, fibroids, polyps, or uterine or cervical problems.
8. Do you experience pain during your periods or sexual intercourse?
Pelvic pain may indicate endometriosis, tubal disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, or fibroids, all of which can negatively affect fertility.
9. Do you have a history of recurrent miscarriage?
Recurrent miscarriages may be caused by structural abnormalities of the uterus or uterine fibroids. A uterine infection, low hormone levels or a dysfunction of the immune system can also trigger multiple miscarriages.
10. Do you drink excessive amounts of coffee or alcohol or use illicit drugs?
Lifestyle choices do make a difference when it comes to making a baby. Excessive amounts of caffeine have been linked to recurrent miscarriage and endometriosis. Alcohol and drug abuse have been shown to increase your chances of ovulation disorders and endometriosis and can interfere with getting pregnant and/or carrying the pregnancy to term.
Contact us to learn more about your risk factors for infertility
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your fertility might be at risk. This general fertility risk assessment is a great starting point when speaking with one of our doctors about your infertility and can help our doctors determine what tests and treatment will be right for you. It is our goal to offer you guidance and help you find the safest, most effective way to get pregnant and bring home a healthy baby.