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Missed Diagnoses

When trying to find the cause of fertility problems, doctors first look at the usual suspects — ovulation problems for her, sperm problems for him.

Infertility or pregnancy loss may be caused by several factors that are not commonly considered. While some of these problems can be treated and therefore reverse their effects on fertility, others cannot.

Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid gland affects almost every aspect of health, including development of the reproductive system. About 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder at some time in her life. Unfortunately, thyroid disorders are also often overlooked, and more than half the cases are misdiagnosed.

Some thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, are associated with infrequent menstruation, miscarriage and infertility. In addition, high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone often lead to in vitro fertilization (IVF) failure.


Smoking affects women and men in several ways. As few as 10 cigarettes a day can impact fertility, and exposure to second-hand smoke impacts infertility almost as much as smoking. Smoking can cause early menopause and increases the risk of miscarriage or tubal pregnancy.

Environmental Chemicals

Environmental chemicals ― found in the air, water, soil, and food ― can have a negative impact on a couple’s reproductive health. These chemicals can interfere with your genes, and an extra or missing chromosome can prevent pregnancy or cause miscarriages.

Exposure to chemicals can also reduce sperm count. It’s estimated that 25 percent of infertile men have significant level of oxidants in their semen.

Miscellaneous Factors

An increase or decrease of certain white blood cells due to immune disorders can affect infertility or pregnancy loss.

Inherited disorders, such as cystic fibrosis or polycystic kidney disease, can impair a man’s fertility.

An infection like the mumps or a glandular infection in the urinary tract or genitals can also result in male infertility. In fact, mumps damages the testicles in 25 percent of men who had the disease.

Certain medicines like anabolic steroids, Tagamet, Dilantin, corticosteroids, and calcium channel blockers can impact sperm quality and count.


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