Many of the risk factors for both male and female infertility are the same. They include:

  • Age. A woman's fertility gradually declines with age and this decline becomes more pronounced in her mid-30s. Infertility in older women may be due to the number and quality of eggs as they age or to health problems that may interfere with fertility. Men over age 40 may be less fertile than younger men are.
  • Tobacco use. A couple's chance of achieving a pregnancy is reduced if either partner uses tobacco. Smoking also reduces the possible benefit of fertility treatment. Miscarriages are more frequent in women who smoke. Smoking can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction and low sperm count in men.
  • Alcohol use. For women, there's no safe level of alcohol use during conception or pregnancy. Avoid alcohol if you're planning to become pregnant because you may not realize you're pregnant for the first few weeks. Alcohol use increases the risk of birth defects, and it may also make it more difficult to become pregnant. For men, heavy alcohol use can decrease sperm count and motility.
  • Being overweight. Among American women, an inactive lifestyle and being overweight may increase the risk of infertility. In addition, a man's sperm count may be affected if he is overweight.
  • Being underweight. Women at risk of fertility problems include those with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, and women who follow a very low calorie or restrictive diet.
  • Exercise issues. Lack of or not enough exercise contributes to obesity, which increases the risk of infertility. Less often, ovulation problems may be associated with frequent strenuous, intense exercise in women who are not overweight.
Jul. 19, 2013