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THE FACTS > RISK FACTORS

Simply put, these activities can impact your fertility.
 
Smoking
Smoking can have a serious impact on your reproductive health by interfering with your body’s ability to create estrogen and thereby regulate ovulation. It can also cause your eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities, is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, and has been linked to early onset of menopause.

In addition to its impact on fertility, smoking has been tied to increases in the likelihood of cervical cancer and pelvic infections.

What to do?
If you smoke, consider quitting. The impact of smoking is greater the longer you smoke and while not all of the damage is reversible, stopping now can prevent future damage. In addition to improving your reproductive health, you can also improve other important aspects of your health, including heart and lung health.

If you donít smoke, donít start.

Helpful Links
ASRM Patient Fact sheet: Smoking and Fertility
Serono International: Enhance Your Well-Being - Smoking
Need help quitting?

 
Alcohol and Drugs
Moderation is the key with alcohol. In fact, many studies have shown that there is some benefit in the consumption of small amounts of alcohol for women. However, excessive consumption of alcohol and alcohol abuse can lead to problems with irregular ovulation, amenorrhea (absence of menses), and the abnormal development of the endometrial lining.

Illegal drugs, such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine, are universally damaging to female fertility and your overall health. Perhaps more difficult to manage are the risks that some legal and over-the-counter drugs may have on fertility and reproductive health. For example, some prescription medications can interfere with ovulation.

What to do?
Don’t use illegal drugs and moderate your alcohol consumption. Discuss any prescription drugs that you are taking with your doctor to determine if any may pose a problem in the future.

Helpful Links
Serono International: Enhance Your Well-Being – Drug Use
OB/GYN.net Press Release -- Alcohol, Caffeine, Smoking Reduce Fertility in Women

 
Toxins
There is more information than ever available on the effects of “body burden”, or the build up of certain environmental toxins, such as pesticides, fertilizers and solvents, in our bodies, as well as its impact on our overall and reproductive health. While the extent to which toxin exposure contributes to infertility is still somewhat unclear, it should be considered as a preventable cause of problems.

Exposure to toxins has been linked to irregular periods, hormone changes, endometriosis and higher miscarriage rates in pregnant women.

What to do?
Try to limit your exposure to these types of materials as much as possible, particularly while trying to conceive. Take the proper precautions when using these products including the use of protective gloves, masks and clothing to minimize direct exposure.

Helpful Links
Environmental Working Group’s “Body Burden” Study
Serono International: Enhance Your Well-Being – Environmental Factors

 
Sexual History
The best way to prevent problems related to sexual history is to practice safe sex – above and beyond preventing unwanted pregnancies. Many sexually transmitted infections (STDs) go untreated for long periods of time because the symptoms are sometimes not visible. This can pose a considerable threat to future fertility and reproductive health. STDs, when left untreated, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, causing scarring or blocking of the fallopian tubes, and changes in the cervix.

What to do?
If you are sexually active, use a condom in addition to any hormonal birth control method, as it is the most effective way to protect yourself from STDs.

See your doctor regularly to be tested for a range of STDs which may impact your health.

Helpful Links
Family Health International
ASRM Patient Fact Sheet – STDs and Fertility
Centers for Disease Control – STD Information

While the information on this site has been reviewed and approved by Extend Fertilityís Medical Advisory Board, it should not replace a conversation with a health care provider.
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