Are you at risk for being infertile? To learn more about the various factors that can make it more difficult to get pregnant, take this infertility risk assessment. While your doctor is best able to guide you in identifying infertility risk factors, these questions can serve as a helpful assessment.
Take our Infertility Risk Assessment below
1. Are you over age 35?
Age is an important infertility risk factor, and it is obviously one that you cannot control. After age 35, your fertility potential starts to decline. Then after age 40, the chance of getting pregnant sharply declines. As women age, the number of eggs decreases, and eggs become more susceptible to chromosomal abnormalities. Women over 35 have a higher chance of miscarriage, too.
2. Are you a smoker?
Smoking is a serious infertility risk factor. The good news is that this risk factor is one that you can change! Increase your chances of pregnancy today by stopping smoking. Smoking can damage your fallopian tubes and cervix and make conception more difficult. It also can decrease your egg supply, age your ovaries at a faster rate than normal and even bring about early menopause. If you smoke and you do get pregnant, studies show that smokers have a greater risk of miscarriage and premature births.
3. Are you overweight or underweight?
Being underweight or overweight can make it more difficult to have a baby. Fortunately, you can control your weight! (Although it may take some hard work!)
If you are 10 to 15 percent above a normal weight, your hormone levels may be less than ideal. This can disrupt ovulation and make it harder to get pregnant.
If you are underweight and your body fat is 10 to 15 percent below normal, you may have problems getting pregnant. Underweight women are unable to produce the necessary hormones to trigger ovulation, which is essential for conception.
Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can also lead to abnormal menstrual cycles and infertility. It’s best to seek professional help right away if you suffer from an eating disorder
4. Do you exercise excessively?
Your infertility risk assessment also includes your activity level. If you engage in strenuous exercise, you may experience irregular periods or no period at all. It’s common for dancers, professional athletes and runners to have ovulation problems. Cutting back on exercise may resolve this infertility risk factor, so talk with your doctor.
5. Do you have a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea and chlamydia are common infertility risk factors that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if left untreated. PID can result in complications such as scarring, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and blocked fallopian tubes – all of which can adversely affect your chances of getting pregnant.
6. Do you drink excessive amounts of caffeine?
Caffeine, in excess, is an infertility risk factor that may increase the chances of miscarriage and the risk of health conditions like endometriosis. While not conclusive, some studies suggest there is a decrease in fertility as caffeine intake rises. To be safe, ask your doctor about a safe amount of caffeine to consume.
7. Do you drink excessively or engage in recreational drug use?
If you are a heavy drinker or use drugs, getting pregnant and/or carrying the pregnancy to term may be difficult. These infertility risk factors have been shown to increase your chances of suffering from an ovulation disorder or endometriosis. There is help for drug and alcohol abuse. Ask your doctor for a referral to an addictions counselor if you are having trouble quitting.
8. Do you have regular periods?
Ovulation is essential to making a baby. If you don’t have a period, or if your cycles are more than 35 days apart or less than 25 days apart, you may have an ovulatory disorder. As the leading cause of infertility, ovulatory disorders are important infertility risk factors. Even if you do experience normal periods, you still may have problems ovulating.
9. Do you experience bleeding or spotting between periods?
Abnormal bleeding or spotting between periods should be factors you take into consideration as part of your infertility risk assessment. Any sort of unexplained bleeding could signal hormonal problems, fibroids, polyps, or uterine or cervical problems.
10. Do you experience pain during your periods or sexual intercourse?
Infertility risk factors may include pelvic pain, pain during sex or abnormal pain during your period. Other infertility risk factors that might trigger pain include endometriosis, tubal disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, or fibroids, all of which can negatively affect fertility.
11. Do you have a history of recurrent miscarriage?
Recurrent miscarriages may be caused by structural abnormalities of the uterus or uterine fibroids. A uterine infection, low hormone levels or a dysfunction of the immune system can also trigger multiple miscarriages.
12. Do you suffer from a chronic medical condition?
Infertility risk factors can include diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis or other serious medical conditions. Having a chronic medical condition can make it difficult to get pregnant. In addition, medications to treat chronic conditions can hinder your ability to conceive or be harmful to the unborn baby. Talk to your doctor and ask about your medications before you try to get pregnant.
The truth is that any of the issues outlined above could be a risk factor for infertility. This general infertility risk assessment is a great starting point when speaking with your doctor about specific infertility risk factors you might have. Your doctor can offer you guidance and help you find the safest, most effective way to get pregnant and bring home a healthy baby.
- MayoClinic: Infertility: Risk Factors.
- RESOLVE: Risk Factors.
- IntegraMed: Causes of Infertility, Male Infertility, Female Infertility.
- IntegraMed: Miscarriage and Fertility.
- Bruce, D, Thatcher, S. & Berg, B. Making a Baby. New York: Random House, 2010.