Diagnosis & risk factors
Speaking to a medical professional about your reproductive health may be considered by couples or individuals who have been trying to conceive for an extended period without success, or by those with known or suspected fertility issues. Women who are over 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6 months, or those under 35 who have been trying for a year, are commonly advised to seek medical evaluation for infertility. Additionally, individuals with a history of reproductive health issues, sexually transmitted infections, or genetic disorders may also consider infertility testing.
When to seek the help of a medical professional
Understanding your reproductive health and your family-building options begins with you! It is recommended you speak to your health care team for advice if:
- You are a woman under 35 trying to conceive for a year without success.
- You are a woman over 35 trying to conceive for 6 months without success.
- You have a history of reproductive health issues, such as irregular or painful menstrual cycles.
- You have a history of sexually transmitted infections.
- You have a family history of genetic disorders that may affect fertility.
- You have been diagnosed with a condition that affects fertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or low sperm count.
- You have experienced more than one miscarriage.
- You have an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI) – both underweight and overweight.
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above statements, it may be time to talk to your healthcare provider. Early evaluation and treatment can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. An infertility specialist can perform tests and develop a personalized treatment plan.
If you have already been diagnosed with infertility, you can learn more about your diagnosis here.
How do I find a fertility specialist?
Check out our list of fertility and family-building professionals here.
When it comes to your fertility, there are several factors that impact your ability to conceive or carry a baby to term. Understanding the risk factors associated with infertility can help you identify changes you may consider making in your lifestyle or environment to optimize your chances of conception and healthy pregnancy. Some risk factors are relevant to both male and female partners, others are more gender-specific.
Risk factors for females or people with ovaries and/or a uterus
There are several factors that can affect your ability to ovulate, conceive, or carry a pregnancy to term.
If you suspect you may have an STI, it is important to treat the infection early. Both partners should be treated to prevent further spreading of the infection.
It is essential to identify any potential risk factors and seek medical advice to increase the chances of conception. By taking steps to maintain good health and address any underlying issues, you can increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy.
Risk factors for males or people with testicles
While infertility can affect both men and women, male infertility is a contributing factor in about half of all infertility cases. Understanding the risk factors for male infertility can help men take steps to maintain their reproductive health and increase their chances of fathering a child.
- Age: As men age, the quantity and quality of their sperm can decline, making it more difficult to conceive. In addition, older men are more likely to have underlying medical conditions that can contribute to infertility, such as erectile dysfunction or hormonal imbalances.
- Lifestyle factors: There are several lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of male infertility, including:
- Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products can damage sperm and reduce fertility.
- Alcohol consumption: Heavy alcohol use can lower testosterone levels and decrease sperm production.
- Drug use: Recreational drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, can reduce sperm production and damage sperm.
- Obesity: Men who are overweight or obese may have lower testosterone levels and decreased sperm production.
- Medical conditions: Several medical conditions can increase the risk of male infertility, including:
- Varicocele: This is a condition in which the veins in the scrotum become enlarged, leading to decreased sperm production.
- Infections: Infections, such as sexually transmitted infections or prostatitis, can damage the testes and reduce sperm production.
- Hormonal imbalances: Conditions such as hypogonadism, which is a deficiency in testosterone, can decrease sperm production.
- Erectile dysfunction: This condition can make it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection, which is necessary for fertilization to occur.
- Undescended testicles
- Hernia repair
The following is a partial list of environmental risk factors to male fertility:
- exposure of the genitals to elevated temperatures — hot baths, whirlpools, steam rooms
Male infertility is a common issue that can be caused by a variety of factors. Understanding the risk factors can help you take steps to maintain your reproductive health and increase your chances of conceiving. If you are concerned about male infertility, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action. With proper evaluation and treatment, many males are able to overcome infertility and fulfill their dreams of starting a family.