Female Fertility: Causes and Risk Factors

Female fertility


What is female fertility?

Female fertility is a woman’s ability to conceive a biological child. You and your partner might question your fertility if you’ve been trying to get pregnant with frequent, unprotected sex for at least one year or at least six months if you’re older than 35 with no success.

What causes female fertility problems?

Various medical issues can contribute to female fertility problems, including:

  • Conditions affecting ovulation
  • Conditions affecting the uterus
  • Blockage of the fallopian tubes, often caused by pelvic inflammatory disease an infection of the female reproductive organs
  • Endometriosis a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus

Age also plays a role in female fertility. Delaying pregnancy can decrease the likelihood that you’ll be able to conceive. An older woman’s eggs aren’t fertilized as easily as a younger woman’s eggs and might not develop normally even after fertilization occurs.

Risk Factors of female fertility

One of the biggest risk factors for infertility is age. Once a woman is in her mid-thirties, it’s much harder to get pregnant. This is because egg quality declines significantly after the age of 32. Women over the age of 40 also have an increased risk of having babies with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.

Other risk factors for female infertility include:

  • history of STIs
  • being significantly overweight
  • being significantly underweight
  • smoking
  • heavy alcohol use
  • high caffeine intake–more than six cups of coffee a day

How to promote female fertility?

Healthy lifestyle choices can help you promote fertility.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight can affect hormone production and inhibit normal ovulation. Maintaining a healthy weight can increase the frequency of ovulation and likelihood of pregnancy.
  • Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are a leading cause of infertility for both men and women. To protect yourself from STIs, practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom each time you have sex or stay in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who isn’t infected.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Although there isn’t enough research to suggest a specific diet to promote fertility or increase the chances of conception, a healthy diet still counts. Good nutrition including a daily prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid is an important part of preconception care and will serve you and your baby well during pregnancy.
  • Schedule regular checkups. Regular visits to your health care provider can help you detect and treat health conditions that might threaten your fertility.
  • Manage stress. Some research suggests that stress can lower the odds of conception. Although more research is needed to show the impact stress might have on female fertility, it’s wise to minimize stress and practice healthy coping methods such as relaxation techniques when you’re trying to conceive.