Risk Factors for Female Infertility: Get Proactive about Health

by | April 16th, 2013

Weight, age, health and overall lifestyle: Focus on these four if you want to start a family.

According to fertility specialist Dr. James Douglas, in most cases, a healthy, non-smoking woman aged 25-32 with no history of infertility will have an increased chance of getting pregnant, compared to one who may be older, overweight, or a heavy smoker.

As part of Infertility Awareness Week, April 21-27, IVF Plano shares a few of the most common risk factors of female infertility, and steps women can take to increase their chances of getting pregnant when they are ready to start a family.

Age and Infertility

Once a woman reaches 32 to 36, her chances of infertility increase. According to the Mayo Clinic: “In your mid-30s, the rate of follicle loss accelerates, resulting in fewer and poorer quality eggs, making conception more challenging.” Older women also have a higher chance of miscarriage and chromosome abnormalities because of decreased egg quality.

How Weight Affects Infertility

Women who are overweight or underweight are at an increased risk to experience female infertility. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center: “Being overweight or obese (body mass index levels that are 10-15 percent above normal) can contribute to infertility in various ways. Obesity is also associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), an endocrinologic disorder that can cause infertility.” One of Dr. Douglas’ patients shares her story about PCOS and infertility here.

While many women are aware that being overweight can decrease the frequency of ovulation, being underweight does the same. The University of Maryland Medical Center also states that “body fat levels 10-15 percent below normal can completely shut down the reproductive process.”

Sexual History Can Lead to Infertility

In the years a woman is sexually active, before she even thinks about getting pregnant, it is still important to practice safe sex, as STDs can contribute to infertility. The Mayo Clinic states that “sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause fallopian tube damage.” The more partners a woman has, the higher chances she has of contracting an STD, so it is important to know and trust your partners, while also protecting yourself.

Lifestyle Choices Affect Fertility

Women that exercise more, don’t smoke, and don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol will be less likely to experience infertility. Other risk factors, like exposure to pesticides, can increase infertility chances, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

When it comes down to it, living the healthiest lifestyle possible, while also being aware of weight and age, can help women decrease their infertility risk. To learn more about female infertility risk factors and how IVF Plano can help, contact us or call (972) 612-2500 to schedule an appointment with Dr. James W. Douglas.

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