A Woman’s Infertility Risk Assessment

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There are many factors that can increase your risk of experiencing infertility. That’s why the more informed you are about how to manage your fertility, the more likely you are to be successful in conceiving a child. Being prepared to discuss your personal fertility risks with your doctor can help increase your chances of conceiving.
What to Expect From A Visit to The Doctor

During a fertility treatment work-up your doctor will take a close look at your medical history, family history and current physical condition.

Knowing your medical history and how it impacts your ability to conceive is very important if you want to increase your chances of getting pregnant.  Use the Risk Factors for Women Table as a guideline for an open discussion with your doctor to help preserve your own ability to conceive a child.  You may also want to review the Risk Factors for Men table.

Risk Factors for Women
Risk Why it’s a Risk What You Can Do
Age Your fertility starts to decline in your late twenties. Think about whether you want to have children and try to factor it in with other life plans such as career and education.
Endometriosis Women with endometriosis can develop cysts, lesions, and scar tissue that will cause the surrounding area to thicken making it difficult to conceive. Consider using contraceptives that contain hormones, such as the Pill or the vaginal ring or patch. The hormones in these can help minimize the growth of the uterine lining each month, helping to reduce the chances of infertility.
Heredity Women whose mothers or sisters have trouble conceiving due to endometriosis or other factors, are more likely to experience the same or similar problems. Discuss testing options with your doctor for early detection and treatment.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Women with PCOS often have irregular periods or no periods at all, and experience months when they do not ovulate. See a reproductive endocrinologist (R.E.) for a complete work-up.  Drug therapies can help women with PCOS to ovulate more consistently.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) If left untreated, STDs, including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and even cause changes in the cervix. If you are sexually active use a condom until you are ready to conceive.
Smoking Use of tobacco products is harmful to the ovaries and causes rapid depletion of eggs. Smoking can also increase your risk of miscarriage. Talk with your doctor about a plan to quit smoking.
Premature Menopause Women whose mothers experienced menopause earlier than age 40 have a higher chance of premature menopause. Talk to your mother about her menopause so you know what to expect.  If you can’t talk with your mother, discuss this with other family members.  You should also talk with your doctor about your family history.
Surgery of Reproductive Organs Loss of an ovary, tubal ligation, or surgery for cervical dysplasia can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Let you doctor know if you have had such surgery. You may need medical intervention to conceive.
Cancer Radiation and chemotherapy treatments frequently damage ovaries. Discuss options with your doctor such as freezing eggs and ovarian tissue or surgically moving ovaries away from areas to be irradiated.

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