Jun 15, 2015 9:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs


Are you and your partner trying to conceive? While 50 percent of couples conceive within the first three months of trying, it can take much longer. University of Utah Health's Erica Johnstone, MD, an OB-GYN, and James Hotaling, MD, a urologist, discuss some factors that affect fertility and how to improve your odds. 

fertility women’s health men’s health infertility

Fertility Myths

Age

Many couples wait to conceive later in life, but take note: The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs decline with age. Women hit their fertile peak in their 20s, and by mid-30s, the conception rate drops considerably. “By age 40, as many as half of women may have trouble getting pregnant,” says Johnstone. Sperm quality also declines with age.

Weight

Being overweight or underweight may affect hormone production and prevent ovulation. Sperm and testosterone levels also might be affected when guys gain too much weight. Losing a few pounds may make all the difference.

Alcohol

“Having more than one alcoholic drink per day can lower sperm counts and contribute to erectile dysfunction,” Hotaling says. “Heavy drinking also increases risk for ovulation disorders for women. Women should limit alcohol to no more than four drinks per week when they’re trying to conceive,” Johnstone says.

Tobacco

If there weren’t enough reasons to quit smoking, tobacco ages women’s ovaries and affects hormone production. Smoking can also damage the DNA in sperm, which can lead to infertility or problems during pregnancy. “There’s data coming out that smoking may have transgenerational effects, meaning it not only affects your children but also their kids,” Hotaling adds.

Medication

Certain medications are not safe for women trying to conceive. And steroids, testosterone replacements and prescription medicines may slow or stop sperm production in men. Talk with your doctor about medications you and your partner are taking before you try to get pregnant.

Are you and your partner having difficulty conceiving? Help is available. Schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist. 

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