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Causes of Fertility Problems in Men and Women

Do you need help getting pregnant? These causes of fertility problems may help you figure out why you’re not conceiving. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, you need to talk to your family physician, a gynecologist, or even a naturopathic doctor.

I have updated and rewritten this article – it’s now called 12 Causes of Fertility Problems. If you need help getting pregnant and haven’t read What to Expect Before You’re Expecting yet, then get it today.  It has a section on increasing your fertility levels — and it’s a fantastic way to prepare your mind and body for a healthy pregnancy.

An in-person doctor visit can help you cope with female or male infertility problems — but you really need to get tested (in person) before you start worrying about infertility. “In about 40% of the cases [of infertility], the problem resides in the woman, and in 40%, the problem is in the man’s reproductive system,” says obstetrician, gynecologist, and infertility expert Robert Thompson, MD in alive magazine, Feb ’09. “The rest of the time there may be a problem with both the man and the woman.”


And, here are several common causes of fertility problems for men and women…

Causes of Fertility Problems

Common Reasons Men Don’t Get Women Pregnant

  • Warm temperatures for testes – laptop computers and “tighty whities” (close fitting underwear) can affect sperm production, motility, and count.
  • Age – but a man’s age isn’t as significant as a woman’s age — it’s not a huge cause of fertility problems.
  • Testicular abnormalities – such as varicocoeles can damage or eliminate sperm
  • Prescription medications – can affect sperm and lead to fertility problems.

Common Reasons Women Can’t Get Pregnant

  • Age – fertility decreases after age 30, decreases more after 35, and more or less plummets after age 40.
  • Underweight or overweight – women with Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) over 30 and under 20 are less likely to get pregnant. Ideal BMI is between 20 and 30.
  • Fibroids or endometriosis – can make getting pregnant difficult, depending on how advanced the disease is.
  • Hormonal changes – some health problems cause hormonal changes that block pregnancy or cause fertility problems.
  • Miscarriages – the more miscarriages a woman has, the less likely she may be to get pregnant.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases – can affect a woman’s reproductive system.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease – can cause problems with getting pregnant.

Causes of Fertility Problems for Both Men and Women

  • Poor diet, no exercise
  • Environmental toxins – pesticides, lead, and even common household cleansers can contribute to problems getting pregnant.
  • Career stress – can lead to physical and emotional problems getting pregnant.
  • Recreational drug use
  • Radiation treatments for cancer
  • Smoking – can cause serious fertility problems

If you’re reluctant to see a fertility doctor, read 13 Tips for Getting Pregnant Without Taking Fertility Drugs.


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If you need help getting pregnant, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Start coping with possible fertility problems right away — the sooner, the better!

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