Top 5 Surprising Causes of Infertility

Infertility is a heartbreaking experience that many Americans face. The good news is that technology and medical advances continue to improve your chances of becoming pregnant despite problems with fertility.


You may be surprised to learn that even if you and your partner are perfectly healthy and fertile, you only have a 15-25% chance of getting pregnant in any given month/cycle. So, even without true infertility issues, it can take time to see that much-desired positive sign on your pregnancy test. That’s why, if you’re under 35, we generally recommend you try conceiving for a year before starting a fertility workup.

There are several other factors you may not have considered regarding your ability to become pregnant. Read on to discover five causes of infertility that may surprise you.

1. Stressing out over not being pregnant

Emotional stress can affect your body’s production of hormones required to regulate ovulation, which is the release of a mature egg from an ovary. Hormonal imbalances can prevent this natural process.

Many women become pregnant once they quit worrying about becoming pregnant. Yoga, meditation, routine physical activity, and participating in hobbies you enjoy can help reduce the tension you’re feeling about conceiving.

2. Age

Many women delay pregnancy until they’ve reached their 30s, often for positive reasons such as achieving financial stability. That old saying about your biological clock ticking away, however, is true. Your odds of becoming pregnant in a single cycle drop dramatically by age 35 and fall to less than 5% in your 40s.

That doesn’t mean you can’t become pregnant. It just means it may take longer. However, because age is a crucial factor in conception, we recommend you see a specialist regarding fertility if you’re 35-40 and haven’t become pregnant after six months, and after three months if you’re over 40.

You should also consider a preconception exam and counseling if you’re over 30 and thinking about becoming pregnant since age increases your and your baby’s risk of developing concerning health conditions during pregnancy.

3. Medical conditions that you may or may not be aware you have

Several conditions can affect your fertility. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the leading causes of infertility in women, but the symptoms are sometimes subtle enough that you may not be aware you have this disorder. Irregular periods are a common symptom of PCOS. Thyroid disorders and/or excessive levels of prolactin, the hormone that controls breast milk production, can also create hormonal imbalances that may affect ovulation.

Sometimes the prescription medications you take can affect fertility. Certain antidepressants, for instance, raise your prolactin levels, and that can interfere with ovulation. Don’t ever stop a medication on your own, but read the label, and talk with your doctor if you’re concerned.  

4. Too many or too few pounds on the bathroom scale

If you’re female, excess weight and low levels of physical activity can interfere with your ability to become pregnant. It’s also true, however, that women who follow a very restrictive diet, exercise excessively, or are significantly underweight often have difficulty conceiving. Obesity can cause fertility issues for men as well, including low sperm counts.

5. Habits

For men, excessive alcohol intake and marijuana use are known to decrease sperm count and motility. If you use a lubricant during sexual intercourse, choose one that’s sperm-friendly. Many of these products can impair sperm motility or its ability to reach and fertilize an egg. Look instead for a lubricant that’s designed for women who are trying to get pregnant.


If you’re concerned about infertility, schedule a visit with Dr. Bardowell. You can rely on his skill and compassion as a leading obstetrician and gynecologist specialist who is well-known for his expertise regarding fertility issues.

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