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Infertility Risk Factors for Men and Women

For women. General factors that can affect the ability to ovulate, conceive, or deliver a child successfully include the following:

  • Age. Women in their late 30s and older are generally less fertile than women in their early 20s

  • Endometriosis

  • Chronic diseases (diabetes, lupus, arthritis, hypertension, or asthma)

  • Hormonal imbalance

  • Environmental factors. Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, or exposure to workplace hazards or toxins

  • Excessive or very low body fat

  • Abnormal Pap smears that have been treated with cryosurgery or cone biopsy

  • DES taken by mother during pregnancy

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Fallopian tube disease

  • Multiple miscarriages

  • Fibroids

  • Pelvic surgery

  • Abnormalities in the uterus that are present at birth or happen later in life

For men. Infertility is not just a woman's problem. Following is a list of risk factors related to male infertility:

  • History of prostatitis, genital infection, or sexually transmitted diseases

  • Exposure to hazards on the job or toxic substances, such as radiation, radioactivity, welding, and many chemicals, including lead, ethylene dibromine, and vinyl chloride.

  • Cigarette or marijuana smoke

  • Heavy alcohol consumption

  • Exposure of the genitals to high temperatures

  • Hernia repair

  • Undescended testicles

  • Prescription drugs (opioid-like drugs that affect the central nervous system, including many psychotropic drugs)  

  • Mumps after puberty

Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 5/21/2015
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