Even if you are not trying to get pregnant right now, it is always worthwhile to know if you have any risk factors that will affect your future ability to have children. Both men and women can have them, so let’s look at 8 potential risk factors or signs of infertility.
How Is Infertility Defined?
It is estimated that 1 in 10 women between age 15 and 44 have trouble conceiving. Infertility is all about the timing. If you are age 35 or older and have been trying to get pregnant for 6 months, you would be considered infertile. If you are younger than 35 and have been trying for at least a year with frequent intercourse, then you are showing signs of infertility.
Many risk factors for men and women can be similar, but others are gender specific.
Risk Factors For Both Men And Women
Bleeding for between 3 – 7 days is considered a normal period. If your bleeding is very heavy or very light, it could be a sign of infertility.
If you have severe cramps, unusual spotting between periods, or have significant changes in either the length of time or amount of bleeding, these may all be signs of a fertility problem.
Very heavy bleeding could indicate endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease(PID) which can cause infertility.
Being Over The Age Of 35
The older you get your ability to conceive declines. For example, a 30 year old woman has a 20% chance of conceiving in any given month, whereas if you are a woman over 35, it drops to 5%.
If you are underweight or overweight, it affects your ability to conceive for both men and women, with obesity being one of the main causes of infertility. If you lose just 5 to 10% of your weight, you can increase your chances considerably.
The same holds true for men. Men with a BMI lower than 20 are at risk for having a lower sperm count, and obese men have lower levels of testosterone and lower sperm counts.
Certain diseases like diabetes, periodontal disease, untreated celiac disease, and hypothyroidism all increase the risk of infertility.
In addition, treatments and medications can interfere with conceiving. Unfortunately, insulin, hormones for thyroid problems, and antidepressants can affect fertility since they all cause irregular periods.
For men, meds like Tagamet, and those for hypertension can cause problems with sperm production and/or its ability to fertilize an egg.
Smoking And Alcohol
Both men and women can be susceptible to infertility by these two lifestyle decisions even before conceiving, as well as when trying to conceive.
Smoking causes the following issues for men:
- Lowe sperm count
- Affects sperm shape
- Affects the motility of sperm
- Can cause erectile dysfunction
- IVF is less successful with a male smoker
Heavy alcohol can lead to many of the same risks, especially for men.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
If either partner has a history of STIs your ability to conceive is at risk. Talk with Birmingham Obstetrics & Gynecology about how to overcome any risks.
Driving long distances, sitting for long periods at a desk, keeping your laptop on your lap, tight underwear, and less breathable fabrics can affect fertility in men. These issues are mostly reversible.
If you have a job that exposes you to paint and varnishes, and if you are a welder or work with metals, you are at a higher risk for infertility.
Once you discover any risk factors affecting your fertility, you can address your lifestyle choices or environmental problems early enough to secure a more successful pregnancy.