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Risk Factors for Women

General Health
The following are factors which can affect your ability to ovulate, conceive, or carry a pregnancy to term:

  • excessive, or very low, body fat can affect ovulation and fertility
  • chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hyper or hypothyroidism, lupus, arthritis, hypertension, or asthma—tell your doctor about prescription medicines that you are currently taking
  • abnormal pap smears which have resulted in treatment such as cryosurgery or cone biopsy
  • your mother took DES when she was pregnant with you — tell your doctor so an x-ray can be done to assess the size and shape of your uterus
  • hormonal imbalance—periods exceeding six days, cycles shorter than 24 days or more than 35 days apart; irregular, unpredictable cycles, very heavy periods, excessive facial hair, or acne on face, chest, abdomen
  • multiple miscarriages—two or more early pregnancy losses
  • environmental factors—cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption, exposure to workplace hazards or toxins

Age
Even if your fertility does not seem at risk now, remember that fertility declines with age. A woman in her late 30’s is about 30% less fertile than she was in her early 20’s. See your doctor if you are over 30 and have been trying to conceive for six months or more.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STDs)
Twelve million cases of newly diagnosed STDs occur in the USA annually, with one quarter of those acquired by teenagers. Some STDs can be asymptomatic. They are transmitted more easily to women, and can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, and epididymitis in men. Complications are more common in women, including subsequent scarring, miscarriage, adhesions, blocked tubes, and ectopic pregnancy. Ultimately, infertility can be a consequence of STDs. To decrease this risk:

  • consider that people in mutually monogamous relationships with an uninfected partner have the lowest risk of getting an STD
  • use latex condoms for contraception
  • detect and treat infections early. Both partners should be treated simultaneously if one has an infection

Tubal Disease
Fallopian tube disease accounts for about 20% of infertility cases treated. If you are having trouble conceiving, or are worried about your future fertility, be sure to tell your doctor if you have had:

  • STDs, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia
  • pelvic pain, unusual vaginal discharge, bleeding, or fever
  • pelvic surgery for ruptured appendix, ectopic pregnancy, or ovarian cyst
  • an IUD for contraception
  • two or more abortions

Remember, use of a condom can be effective in preventing the spread of STDs. If you have an infection, your partner must be treated also. A specialist can assess the health of your uterus and tubes with an x-ray known as a hysterosalpingogram (HSG).

Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disease in which uterine tissue is found outside of the uterus; on the ovaries, fallopian tube, and often on the bladder and bowel. It can occur in menstruating women of all ages, including teens. While the connection between endometriosis and infertility is not clearly understood, early detection may result in successful control and preservation of fertility. Be sure to report these symptoms to your doctor:

  • painful menstrual cramps that may be worsening with time
  • extremely heavy menstrual flow
  • diarrhoea or painful bowel movements, especially around your period
  • painful sexual intercourse

Endometriosis runs in families, so it is important to tell your doctor if your mother or sisters had symptoms or were diagnosed with the disease. It may be symptomless, however, and diagnosis may only be confirmed with an outpatient surgery known as laparoscopy.

– Content courtesy of Resolve

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