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Infertility Risk Factors for Men and Women

For women

Some factors can affect how easily a woman ovulates, gets pregnant, or delivers a child. These include:

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

  • Endometriosis

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

  • Hormone imbalance

  • Environmental factors. These include cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, and exposure to workplace hazards or toxins.

  • Too much body fat or very low body fat

  • Abnormal Pap smears that have been treated with cryosurgery or cone biopsy

  • DES taken by mother during pregnancy

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Fallopian tube disease

  • Multiple miscarriages

  • Fibroids

  • Pelvic surgery

  • Abnormalities in the uterus that are present at birth or happen later in life

For men

Infertility is not just a woman's problem. Here is a list of things that can affect a man's fertility:

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

  • Exposure to hazards on the job or to toxic substances. These include radiation, radioactivity, welding, and many chemicals. Toxic chemicals include lead, ethylene dibromine, and vinyl chloride.

  • Cigarette or marijuana smoke

  • Heavy alcohol drinking

  • Exposure of the genitals to high temperatures

  • Hernia repair

  • Undescended testicles

  • Prescription medicine. These include opioid-like medicines that affect the central nervous system. An example is medicines to treat mental illness.  

  • Mumps after puberty 

  • A genetic problem or a problem that was present at birth (congenital)

Online Medical Reviewer: Burd, Irina, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2018
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