When you decide as a couple it is time to have a baby, you may be filled with both happiness and fear at the same time. Many people are able to get pregnant right away, but more than five million people in the United States have fertility issues. Before trying to conceive, try to identify which factors prevent a female from becoming pregnant and see a doctor as early as possible. The quicker you address any issues with fertility, the more chances you have at getting pregnant.

What Factors Prevent a Female from Becoming Pregnant?

1. General Health Conditions

Your health condition is the most important factor that affects fertility in a woman. 

  • Obesity. If your body fat or BMI is over 10 to 15 percent of normal, your body may have too much estrogen and hamper fertility.
  • Underweight. If your body fat or BMI is 10 to 15 percent below normal, you may not have enough hormones to get pregnant.
  • Poor diet. You may not be getting enough vitamins and nutrients to conceive. Also, it is important to cut consumption of alcohol and quit smoking.
  • Hormone imbalances. If you have irregular periods due to hormonal issues, you may not ovulate on a regular basis.
  • Auto-immune disorders. Auto-immune disorders of the thyroid, Lupus, diabetes and arthritis can all reduce fertility.
  • Other health conditions you need to let your doctor know about are history of miscarriage, PMS or painful menstruation, and pap smears with abnormalities that needed surgical intervention. Your doctor can help you optimize your fertility by closely monitoring and treating the above conditions.

2. Problems with the Uterus

a) Endometriosis

This condition causes 5 to 30 percent of the infertility cases and is caused by the overgrowth of the uterine lining outside the uterine walls. It can occur on the bladder, ovaries, fallopian tubes and bowels. It can cause scarring, cysts on the ovaries, and prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus.

This condition can be treated to improve fertility if you tell your doctor about a history in your family, that you have painful periods, pain with sex, heavy bleeding or painful bowel movements with periods. Even if you don’t have pain, your doctor can do a scope to look for the condition.

b) Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition where a hormone imbalance causes multiple cysts on the ovaries that are not released properly during the cycle. You may have issues getting pregnant because you don’t ovulate or have periods. Let your doctor know if you have weight gain, hair growth on your face, irregular periods, or problems with blood sugar/blood pressure. Most cases of PCOS are highly treatable if caught early with diet, hormones or diabetic medications.

c) Primary ovary insufficiency (POI)

When this condition occurs, the ovaries have actually shut-down and stopped making any hormones or eggs resulting in early menopause. While some women still ovulate and have some periods, some have none. It is important to see your doctor for this condition, because there is still a 4 to 10 percent chance of pregnancy.

d) Other Uterus Problems

Other problems that can affect fertility include:

  • Ÿ Tumor in the uterus (Fibroid) or polyps
  • Ÿ Birth defects in the reproductive area
  • Ÿ Poor quality cervical mucus
  • ŸYour mother took DES to prevent miscarriages while she waspregnant with you

3. Fallopian Tube Disease

Blocked fallopian tubes account for around 20 percent of infertility cases. Fallopian tube disease causes scarring and blockage in the tubes. This is from untreated STD’s, multiple reproductive surgeries and PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease). If you have had any of the following, you should tell your doctor:

  • Pelvic surgeries; appendix, fallopian tube or ovary
  • Sexually transmitted disease; chlamydia, syphilis or gonorrhea
  • History of pelvic pain and fever
  • Tubal pregnancies

Early intervention with this means your doctor can use a scope to check and clear your tubes and increase your chances of fertility.

4. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The statistics show that over 65 million people in the United States have a sexually transmitted disease. Sometimes they will not show any symptoms and women more often than men to not have any symptoms. This means that women can have an undetected STD and if left untreated can cause tubal scarring. In order to prevent fertility issues, use the following precautions:

  • If you are not with one partner, use a condom every time you have sex
  • Sex with more than one person puts you at higher risk for a sexually transmitted disease
  • If you suspect you have an STD, get treatment right away and make sure your partner gets treated

5. Unhealthy Lifestyles

There are a few lifestyle factors that can prevent a female from becoming pregnant. These include:

  • ŸSmoking. Not only is smoking unhealthy for a growing fetus, it can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant by altering the production of estrogen. Stop smoking before you decide to conceive to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
  • Ÿ Alcohol. Alcohol can increase the risk of infertility and miscarriage. Also, if you do become pregnant alcohol can do the most damage to your new fetus in the early weeks before you even know you are pregnant, so it is a good idea to quit before planning to conceive.
  • ŸCaffeine. Lower your caffeine intake as much as possible or quit. It has been shown to increase infertility and miscarriage rates.

6. Other Factors that Prevent a Female from Becoming Pregnant

  • Certain medications. Medications such as painkillers, antidepressants, antibiotics and others can affect your fertility. Check with your doctor to see if any changes need to be made.
  • Advanced age. Women over the age of 35 have a harder time conceiving. Advanced age, according to the CDC affects a woman’s ability to conceive and raises the risk of having a miscarriage or child with a genetic disorder. As a woman ages, less eggs are produced and the ovarian functions are reduced overall.
  • Herbal Supplements. The popular cold/flu remedy Echinacea may have a negative effect on sperm, but studies continue on this. Since it is still unknown what the full effects of this herb are it may be best to avoid it while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
  • Anorexia or bulimia. Both are eating disorders that may cause poor nutrition and interrupt your fertility cycle.

How to Identify and Treat Fertility Problem in Women

A doctor can diagnose probable infertility by giving you a physical, taking down your medical history and give you the following tests:

  • Urine/Blood tests including thyroid function, ovarian function and pituitary hormones.
  • Pelvic exam
  • Breast exam
  • Cervical mucus sample and other tissue samples to check for ovulation
  • Scope the pelvic area (laparoscopy) to look for blockages, scar tissue and adhesions or ovarian issues
  • Hysterosalpingogram where a scope is used with a dye to check if the fallopian tubes are open
  • Hysteroscopy to look into the uterine cavity
  • An ultrasound to check the condition of the ovaries and check for cysts
  • A sonohystogram to look by ultrasound while inserting saline into the uterine cavity
  • The doctor may have you take daily temperatures and chart them to see if you are ovulating

Doctors use the following treatments for infertility:

  • Surgical repair to clear the tubes, remove tumors from the uterus or cysts from ovaries
  • Hormonal medications to improve menstruation, balance the hormones or ease endometriosis
  • Clear STD’s with antibiotic therapy
  • Give medications to help the ovaries ovulate