Know the Female Infertility Risk Factors
Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples, and so Dr. James Douglas strives to educate both women and men about infertility risk factors. If you hope to get pregnant soon or in the future, knowing the facts about infertility now–and taking preventative steps to avoid the risk factors–can make a difference.
Men and women are equally at risk for infertility, with some shared risk factors. Dr. Douglas provides suggestions for positive steps you can take to safeguard your reproductive health. Not every female risk factor is preventable, but knowing the facts can ward off a problem before it affects your chances for starting a family.
Proactive Steps to Avoiding Female Infertility
Don’t Ignore the Link between Maternal Age and Infertility. Realize the strong connection between age and infertility to make an informed decision on when to start a family. The exasperating “biological clock is ticking” nudges from generation to generation actually bear truth. A woman is born with all of the eggs she will have over a lifetime, and each month during a menstrual cycle she releases one of those eggs. As a woman ages, so do her eggs, depleting the stockpile and leaving remaining eggs of declining quantity. By the time she reaches her 40th birthday, 90 percent of a woman’s eggs will have a chromosomal abnormality.
Maintain Optimal Weight and Body Mass. Excessive weight is associated with infertility and a number of chronic diseases: cancer, heart disease and diabetes, to name a few. What you may be surprised to know is that underweight women sometimes have trouble getting pregnant. The sensitive reproductive system relies on fully-functioning hormonal signals and a regular menstrual cycle to prepare for and support a pregnancy. A body mass index below the normal range can disrupt ovulation, and even temporarily send a woman into premature menopause. Too much weight can lead to anovulation, or result in a disease called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). To assess your weight, calculate your BMI here, and talk with your fertility doctor about a sustainable weight loss program.
A normal BMI falls between 19 and 24. Want to know yours?
Say No to Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs. A fertility specialist will recommend a smoking cessation plan before you start trying to get pregnant. Smoking negatively impacts your chances of getting pregnant. What’s more, cigarette smoking can lead to miscarriage and preterm labor once you do become pregnant. Dr. Douglas also recommends abstaining from recreational drugs and alcohol (or at least limiting alcohol intake) while you are trying to get pregnant.
Practice Safe Sex. The choices you make now can hurt your chances of conceiving a baby later. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are called “silent infections” because symptoms are not obvious. If you are not trying to get pregnant, insist that your partner wear a condom. If you are trying to get pregnant, consider undergoing testing to verify absence of STDs in both partners. “Untreated, about 10-15% of women with chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).” – Centers for Disease Control
Of course, female infertility risk factors also include problems with the reproductive tract, generally signaled by irregular or painful periods or pain with intercourse. Talk with your obgyn or Janes Douglas, M.D. if you experience troubling symptoms that could indicate fallopian tube blockage, endometriosis or PCOS.
Dr. Douglas and the entire IVF Plano team employ educational materials social media, newsletters and online communications to share the message that knowing female risk factors can help prevent infertility. If you suspect that infertility will delay your plans to get pregnant, contact us. Fertility treatment can enable couples with even the most severe cases to go on to get pregnant.