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Infertility Risk Factors for Women and Men

Many things can affect fertility for men and women. Some factors can affect how easily a woman ovulates, gets pregnant, or gives birth to a baby. Men have risk factors, too. Many things can affect the health of their sperm.

Risk factors for women

These are things that can affect a woman’s fertility:

  • Age. Women in their late 30s and older are less fertile than women in their early 20s.

  • Endometriosis

  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, lupus, arthritis, hypertension, and asthma

  • Hormone imbalance

  • Smoking cigarettes

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Contact with workplace hazards or toxins

  • Too much body fat or very low body fat

  • Abnormal Pap smears treated with cryosurgery or cone biopsy

  • DES taken by their mother during pregnancy

  • Sexually transmitted infections

  • Fallopian tube disease

  • Multiple miscarriages

  • Fibroids

  • Pelvic surgery

  • Abnormalities of the uterus

Risk factors for men

These are things that can affect a man’s fertility:

  • History of prostatitis, genital infection, or sexually transmitted infections

  • Regular contact with radiation, radioactivity, or welding

  • Regular contact with toxins such as lead

  • Regular contact with ethylene dibromide or vinyl chloride

  • Cigarette or marijuana smoke

  • Heavy alcohol drinking

  • Exposure of the genitals to high temperatures

  • Hernia repair

  • Undescended testicles

  • Opioid-like medicines that affect the central nervous system

  • Mumps after puberty 

  • A genetic problem

  • A problem that was present at birth (congenital)

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Irina Burd MD PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2021
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