Skip to content

Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility

Font Size
A
A
A

What causes infertility in women?

Problems with ovulation account for most cases of infertility in women. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.

Less common causes of fertility problems in women include:

  • Blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy
  • Physical problems with the uterus
  • Uterine fibroids

What things increase a woman's risk of infertility?

Many things can affect a woman's ability to have a baby. These include:

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Athletic training
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Health problems that cause hormonal changes

How does age affect a woman's ability to have children?

More and more women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children. Actually, about 20% of women in the United States now have their first child after age 35. So age is an increasingly common cause of fertility problems. About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 have fertility problems.

Aging decreases a woman's chances of having a baby in the following ways:

  • The ability of a woman's ovaries to release eggs ready for fertilization declines with age.
  • The health of a woman's eggs declines with age.
  • As a woman ages she is more likely to have health problems that can interfere with fertility.
  • As a women ages, her risk of having a miscarriage increases.

How long should women try to get pregnant before calling their doctors?

Most healthy women under the age of 30 shouldn't worry about infertility unless they've been trying to get pregnant for at least a year. At this point, women should talk to their doctors about a fertility evaluation. Men should also talk to their doctors if this much time has passed.

In some cases, women should talk to their doctors sooner. Women in their 30s who've been trying to get pregnant for six months should speak to their doctors as soon as possible. A woman's chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every year after the age of 30. So getting a complete and timely fertility evaluation is especially important.

Today on WebMD

Four pregnant women standing in a row
How much do you know about conception?
Couple with surrogate mother
Which one is right for you?
 
couple lying in grass holding hands
Why Dad's health matters.
couple viewing positive pregnancy test
6 ways to improve your chances.
 
Which Treatment Is Right For You
Slideshow
Conception Myths
Article
 
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video
Conception
Slideshow
 
Charting Your Fertility Cycle
Article
Fertility Specialist
Article
 
Understanding Fertility Symptoms
Article
invitro fertilization
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections