Some Factors That Affect a Woman’s Fertility

Is trouble getting pregnant? Here are some possible causes of female infertility.

What causes infertility?

Most people know that a woman’s fertility decreases as she gets older, but even during her most fertile (and otherwise healthy) years, lifestyle choices and external factors can affect a woman’s chances of having a healthy baby.

“Women who want to increase their chances of getting pregnant often don’t know the best things to do or what to watch out for,” says Francisco Arredondo, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist in San Antonio, Texas. Here are a number of factors that do (or don’t) affect a woman’s fertility, and what you’ll do about them if you’re trying to conceive.


Carrying around extra pounds can affect hormone production and make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant, says William Schlaff, MD, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. “The more weight a woman gains over her healthy weight, the more she tends to experience decreased ovarian function,” he says. And a 2009 study published in Fertility and Sterility found that women who were obese at age 18 were more likely to develop polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and have problems with infertility. PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, and the leading cause of infertility.

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