There are several factors that go into fertility, whether it be for males or females. For purposes of this article, let’s focus on factors that affect women’s fertility.
5. Your weight. Being overweight can affect hormone production and make it more difficult to get pregnant. There have been studies done that show being overweight (in your teens) increases your chances of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder among women who are of reproductive age and is the leading cause of infertility. But just like carrying around extra body fat, not having enough of it can impact fertility as well. Women who are too skinny and have a low BMI (Body Mass Index) are low in a hormone known as leptin. Having a low amount of leptin can contribute to not having a menstrual cycle, which leads to difficulties getting pregnant. Maintaining a healthy body weight (discuss what this is for your body type with a professional) is one of the most important things a woman can do to increase her chances of getting pregnant.
4. Your age. It snuck up on you. You wanted a career first. You wanted to buy a house first. And before you knew it you were in your 30’s or 40’s and now you are wanting to start a family. There is no shame in any of that, it just might take you a little longer to get pregnant. A woman usually reaches menopause in her 40’s or 50’s. Meaning, you will no longer ovulate and are unable to get pregnant. But as you get closer and closer to that age, your egg count declines and decreases your chances of getting pregnant dramatically.
Of course there is no magic age to this process but studies have shown after the age of 35 your chances of getting pregnant are getting very small. Your mom’s green eyes may not be the only thing you “inherited” from her. Ask your mom, sister, or even grandmother when they experienced menopause. Chances are if they went through it early, you will too.
3. Exercise. I know, I know, I told you to maintain a healthy body weight, so you are thinking exercise is good for you, right? Working out, of course, is important but there is such a thing as “too much” working out if you are trying to get pregnant. Similar to being underweight, over exercising can lead to a change in your menstrual cycle, hence making it harder to get pregnant. I suggest limiting yourself to no more than an hour a day, ideally 30 minutes a day should be sufficient amount of time if you are trying to get pregnant.
2. Smoking/Alcohol. Of course everyone knows that smoking and drinking alcohol are harmful to the baby when you are pregnant. But they are also harmful to your changes of getting pregnant in the first place. Cigarette smoke disrupts hormones and can cause infertility. This also includes secondhand smoke. Again, you probably know that drinking any form of alcohol is dangerous when you are pregnant, but drinking “too” much before becoming pregnant also increases your chances of having a more difficult time getting pregnant. It is best to limit yourself to one drink per day, or if you are anything like me, more like one drink per week.
1. Medical conditions. There are just some things you have no control over. People with significant thyroid disease may have a harder time becoming pregnant. Sometimes this is an undiagnosed issue and is only found when trying to conceive. As mentioned above, you may have developed PCOS and will have to seek treatments while attempting to get pregnant. You could also have developed some sort of scar tissue on your fallopian tube(s) preventing you from ovulation. Another common issue is endometriosis, a disorder in which tissue from the inside of your uterus begins to grow on other organs, again creating a “blockage” preventing you from getting pregnant.
Make sure you discuss all these with your doctor before getting too discouraged.