Q: What are the risk factors for infertility in women?
A: The number one risk factor for infertility in women is a woman's age. After the age of 40, a woman's fertility chances decrease from 90% fertility to 67% fertility. After 45 years of age, that number plummets to 15% fertility. Fertility issues as the female ages normally has nothing to do with menopause, but with the viability of the eggs left for ovulation. These eggs often have chromosomal problems that leave them unable to be fertilized.
Weight is another huge issues with fertility at any age. Overweight women who are just 10% to 15% above the appropriate weight has an increase in estrogen production large enough to leave them infertile. The opposite end of the spectrum has the same effect. In women who are underweight by just 10% or 15%, often have infertility problems due to a lack of regular menstrual cycles and ovulation.
Other life factors that can attribute to infertility include:
- Alcohol Use - 5 drinks per week reduces fertility.
- Occupational Stress - mental stress, radiation, and chemical use can reduce fertility.
- Smoking - Reduces fertility in women.
- Depression - Effects the hormones involved in reproduction.
- Chronic Disease - Diabetes, hypertension, asthma, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, lupus and arthritis can all have a negative effect on fertility.
- Hormone Imbalance - Longer that average periods, shorter than average periods or a lack of menses can all be a sign that reproductive hormones are out of balance. Proper balance is required to maintain fertility.
- History of Tubal Problems - Ectopic pregnancy or disease of the fallopian tubes can lead to fertility problems in the future.
- Cancer is another risk factor for infertility. Some cancer treatments can reduce fertility or damage the uterus to the point that a baby cannot be held to term. For women who are diagnosed with cancer before they are able to have children, egg harvesting and freezing can be used to reestablish fertility or conceive a child after the treatment is completed.