Obstacles to Pregnancy

The path to pregnancy is not always easy. There are many factors that can affect fertility and sometimes the cause is unknown. Try to stay positive, avoid placing blame, and share the challenge with your partner as you support each other through the obstacles.

Age is a major factor in female fertility. As a woman ages, the quantity and quality of her eggs decline. This becomes apparent by around age 35 and speeds up after age 38. A man makes sperm throughout his life. So age in men is not as much of a factor. However, many problems can affect sperm regardless of a man's age.

Problems with Sperm
Health and lifestyle factors can lower the number of sperm (sperm count) in a man's ejaculate. Even if the sperm count is normal, a man may produce sperm that don't function properly. These may not be able to make the journey through the woman's reproductive tract. Or, they may not be able to fertilize an egg.

Problems with Ovulation
Ovulation problems are a common cause of infertility. In some cases, an imbalance of hormones can prevent eggs from maturing. Hormone problems can also prevent eggs from being released by the ovaries.

Problems with Fertilization
A blockage in the male or female reproductive tract can prevent fertilization. Or, sperm may be unable to swim through the cervical mucus. And even if sperm do reach an egg, they may not be able to penetrate the eggs covering.

Problems with Implantation
After fertilization, an embryo may not be able to implant in the uterus. This is often due to problems with the lining of the uterus. It can also result from problems with the size or shape of the uterus.

Lifestyle and Health Habits
Certain lifestyle and health habits can affect fertility. Smoking, alcohol, drugs, weight (overweight or underweight), medications, supplements, and sexually transmitted diseases are all factors that cause fertility issues.

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