Female Risk Factors
Infertility is a disease of men and womens reproductive organs that impairs one of the bodys most basic functionsthe ability to have children. And although 6.1 million people (10 percent of the reproductive-age population) in the United States are infertile, unlike lung cancer or HIV/AIDS, people are rarely informed of the very direct links between their behavior and their reproductive health. Read below to learn how you can help prevent infertility in the future by examining your behavior now.
What Can I Do?
Smoking can seriously affect your ability have children.
Research shows that smoking is harmful to a womens ovaries, and
the degree of damage is dependent upon the amount and length of time a
woman smokes. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals in cigarettes interfere
with the bodys ability to create estrogen, a hormone that regulates
ovulation, and cause womens eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities.
While some damage is irreversible, stopping smoking now can prevent further
For more information about smoking, visit the American Lung Associations website at www.lungusa.org.
Twelve percent of all infertility cases are a result of a woman either weighing too little or too much. The main ingredient in the body weight and fertility mix estrogena sex hormone produced in fat cells. If a woman has too much body fat, the body produces too much estrogen and begins to react as if it is on birth control, limiting her odds of getting pregnant. A woman with too little body fat cant produce enough estrogen and her reproductive cycle begins to shut down. Both under and overweight women have irregular cycles in which ovulation does not occur or is inadequate.
For more information about nutrition, visit the American Dietetic Associations website at www.eatright.org.
Everyone knows that if you dont practice safe sex, you might get pregnant. However, most people dont know that if you arent using condoms now and you become infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you may never get pregnant in the future. STIs, transmitted form person to person through intimate sexual contact, infect one in three sexually active people by age 24. Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, genital wars, herpes simplex virus (genital herpes), hepatitis C & B, trichomoniasis, scabies, and pubic lice. STIs are a leading cause of infertility because they often display few, if any visible symptoms. Because women and men are frequently unaware that they have an STI, they fail to seek proper treatment and this threatens their fertility.
For more information about STIs, visit the Center for Disease Controls website section on STI prevention at www.cdc.org.
It is a biological fact that fertility decreases with age. The decreased odds of getting pregnant are due to normal changes that occur with aging. Women are born with a limited number of eggs. Since no new ones are formed throughout a womans life, the number of eggs steadily declines over time. As women age the quality of their eggs declines as well. This doesnt mean that you should run out and get pregnant, or resolve to never have kids. But you should understand the facts. Bottom line: every womans body ages at a different rate and there is no way of knowing for sure what your fertility will be like, say 10 years from now.
For more information, also see ASRMs Fact Sheets on