Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count

Female fertility can be affected by your lifestyle choices. Consider simple steps to keep your reproductive system healthy.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're hoping to get pregnant, you might wonder about your fertility and whether you can improve it. Some factors might be beyond your control — such as medical issues that affect female fertility — but that isn't the end of the story. Your lifestyle choices can have some effect on your fertility, too.

Here's what you need to know to promote and protect your fertility.

What is female fertility?

Female fertility is a woman's ability to conceive a biological child. You and your partner might question your fertility if you've been trying to get pregnant with frequent, unprotected sex for at least one year — or at least six months if you're older than 35 — with no success.

What causes female fertility problems?

Various medical issues can contribute to female fertility problems, including:

  • Conditions affecting ovulation
  • Endometriosis — a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus
  • Bands of scar tissue between pelvic organs (pelvic adhesions) caused by a previous surgery or infection
  • Blockage of the fallopian tubes, often caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, or a tubal abnormality
  • Excessive prolactin in the blood (hyperprolactinemia)
  • Conditions affecting the uterus

Age also plays a role in female fertility. Delaying pregnancy can decrease the likelihood that you'll be able to conceive. An older woman's eggs aren't fertilized as easily as a younger woman's eggs — and might not develop normally even after fertilization occurs.

June 12, 2015 See more In-depth