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Fertility Problems (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Things that increase your risk of having fertility problems include:

  • The woman's age. The older a woman is, the more likely she is to have problems getting pregnant:2
    • Age 20 to 24: 7 out of 100 women have fertility problems.
    • Age 25 to 29: 9 out of 100 have fertility problems.
    • Age 30 to 34: 15 out of 100.
    • Age 35 to 39: 22 out of 100.
    • Age 40 to 44: 29 out of 100.
  • Birth defects. Some men and women were born with problems in their reproductive systems.
  • Moderate or severe endometriosis.
  • Past exposure to very high levels of environmental toxins, certain drugs, or high doses of radiation. This includes cancer chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Past infection with a sexually transmitted infection, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, that has since damaged the reproductive system.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.

When To Call a Doctor

Consult with your doctor if you:

  • Want children but have been unable to become pregnant after 1 year of having sex without using birth control.
  • Are a woman older than 35 who has been unable to become pregnant after about 6 months of sex without using birth control.
  • Have had three or more miscarriages in a row.

Watchful waiting

Before seeking medical help with conception, you can increase your chances of becoming pregnant by practicing fertility awareness. For more information, see Home Treatment.

Who to see

For initial fertility questions and testing, you can see:

For complete fertility testing, see an obstetrician/gynecologist with special training and experience in fertility problems. This doctor may be called a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist. When looking for a specialist, ask what percentage of a doctor's practice is fertility treatment. Also ask if he or she has training in reproductive endocrinology.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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