5 Factors That Suprisingly Affect Female Fertility

Five Factors that Surprisingly Affect Female Fertility

Infertility is increasingly common, but that does not make it any less discouraging. Fortunately, modern medicine has a solution to almost every common infertility factor.

Each couple has a unique set of circumstances, but what are the top 5 factors that affect female fertility?

1. Age

There’s no question about it: Age is the #1 factor affecting female fertility. The quantity and quality of eggs decline each year, and there is a steep decline around age 35. In the prime of fertility, a woman has about a 25% chance of getting pregnant each cycle. By age 40, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant is less than 5% per cycle. 

Many women choose to delay pregnancy until they are established and ready, in order to be the best parent possible. Make an appointment with a fertility clinic to determine your age-related fertility potential by testing the quantity and quality of your remaining eggs. 

Solutions to age-related fertility issues:

  • Cryopreservation: Freeze your eggs! If you are still under 40, freeze your high-quality eggs so that you can become your own egg donor in the future.
  • Donor eggs or embryos: If you did not freeze your eggs, a healthy donor egg is a great way to have the opportunity of pregnancy and childbirth.

2. Hormones

In order for ovulation and conception to work, you need the proper amount of GnRH, LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone, and each must be present at the right time. Conception and successful pregnancies require a delicate hormonal balance.

PCOS: Polycystic ovarian syndrome is marked by the presence of elevated androgens, which include testosterone and other male sex hormones, and prevent proper ovulation. 

Thyroid dysfunction: Both low and high levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation, thus impairing fertility.

Other hormonal problems that lead to infertility and miscarriage include low progesterone and short luteal phases.

Ovulation is the key to conception. If you only have a period every few months or not at all, you may not be ovulating regularly enough to get pregnant.

Watch for other signs of hormonal imbalances, including:

  • New or worsening acne
  • Male-pattern body hair
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Extreme mood swings

Solutions to hormone-related fertility issues:

  • You can undergo an ovulation evaluation at a fertility clinic, which usually includes a pelvic ultrasound exam. Your doctor may then prescribe hormone-balancing medications like Clomiphene citrate, Metformin or Gonadotrophins. 

3. Anatomy

Damage to reproductive organs, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, Fallopian tube blockage, and endometriosis can prevent successful conception and pregnancy.

Tubal factor: Fallopian tubal factors account for about 35% of all fertility problems. Tube blockage usually results from scar tissue developed through injury or disease.

Pelvic inflammatory disease: This bacteria results from STIs like chlamydia or gonorrhea and leads to fallopian tubal factors, because bacteria from this infection can cause scar tissue to form. 1/10 women with PID become infertile.

Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a potentially painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing blockages.

Solutions to anatomy-related fertility issues:

  • A doctor can perform surgery to remove the blockage or correct the abnormality. If you do receive surgery on reproductive organs, doctors recommend women freeze their eggs in case of any surgery-related damage.
  • In vitro fertilization may be a good solution for women who can safely carry babies, but cannot conceive due to structural abnormalities.

4. Genetics

Genetically inherited hormones or structural abnormalities may also impact one’s ability to get pregnant. Genes also affect the age of menopause (you’re six times more likely to experience early menopause if your mother, sister or grandmother experienced it).

It is critical to understand your family fertility history, and bring your findings into your fertility specialist. They may recommend fertility testing to determine which of the following fertility treatments is right for you.

Solutions to gene-related fertility issues:

  • Oral medications to encourage ovulation
  • Egg freezing
  • IVF

5. Lifestyle

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, up to 13% of infertility may be caused by cigarette smoking. Women who smoke also reach menopause 1-4 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Other lifestyle factors that may diminish your fertility include:

  • Being significantly underweight or overweight
  • Irregular sleep cycles
  • Poor diet
  • Illicit drug use
  • Caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Psychological stress
  • Environmental and occupational hazards

These lifestyle factors can affect fertility by causing hormonal imbalances. Fortunately, low fertility caused by lifestyle factors is completely reversible.

Solutions to lifestyle-related fertility issues:

  • First and foremost, schedule a visit at an experienced fertility clinic to determine how to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate pregnancy. Then follow your doctor’s recommendations. They might involve quitting smoking, drinking less coffee or alcohol, losing or gaining weight, or establishing a healthy sleep cycle.

To learn more about infertility and successful treatment methods, check out this complete fertility guide.