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Don't Ignore These Three Risks to Your Fertility

by Leigh Ann Woodruff, April 22, 2012

This week — April 22-28 — is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), a movement founded by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association with the goals of educating the public understanding of infertility as a disease, ensure that individuals trying to conceive know when it is time to see a fertility doctor and educate legislators about infertility and how it affects people in their state.

The theme for this week's NIAW is: "Don't Ignore ..." In honor of the theme, FertilityAuthority has put together a list of three things you should not ignore that can affect both women's and men's fertility.

Don't Ignore …

  1. Weight. During the past 20 years, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. Weight can affect both women's and men's fertility. When a woman is overweight, excess fat can lead to higher estrogen levels, as well as anovulation (a lack of ovulation), and if the woman does become pregnant, being overweight is linked to more pregnancy complications, including miscarriages, birth defects, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. In men, studies have found that overweight and obese men were more likely to have low sperm count, or not have any viable sperm at all.
  2. Chemicals in plastics. More research is finding that chemicals commonly found in plastics are linked to fertility problems. For example, bisphenol-A (BPA) —found in many hard plastics for food and drink packaging — has been linked to decreased sperm quality and quantity and reduction in normal fertilization of eggs during in vitro fertilization (IVF). In addition, a study found higher levels of phthalates, which are used to make vinyl plastics softer and more flexible and are also found in cosmetics, among infertile couples than those who have conceived naturally. Yes, plastic is convenient, but try to reduce your exposure when trying to conceive.
  3. Age. Surveys have found that women are not as aware as they should be on how age can affect their fertility. So here's the skinny: Age matters. Fertility in women sharply declines at age 35, and the chance of becoming pregnant each month by having unprotected intercourse is approximately 10 percent. By age 40, that chance has decreased to 5 percent. Apparently, there is a paternal biological clock, too. Mouse studies have found that sperm quality begins to decrease in mid-life.

There are, of course, many other fertility risks for both men and women. Smoking, alcohol, more environmental toxins ... For more information, read:

For more information about RESOLVE and National Infertility Awareness Week, visit:


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