Factors that can lead to decreased fertility rates

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Infertility is an obstacle that no couple wants to hurdle. But the Centers for Disease Control released good news in 2013, stating that infertility rates have fallen.

Dr. Mark Ballard at Ballard Gynecology said that 1 in 6 couples struggle to get pregnant. And the biggest contributor to infertility is age.

He said women ages 19 to 26 are most fertile, having about a 50 percent success rate.

“But that number drops to 40 percent for women 27 to 34, and then it drops down to 30 percent for women that are 35 and older."

By age 45, the chances of getting pregnant are 3-5 percent. And about 40-50 percent of those pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Ballard said there have been studies showing that certain lifestyle choices can also decrease fertility.

"If a patient smokes or even is exposed to second-hand smoke from their partner, their fertility rate is going to drop about 13 percent,” he said.

Another contributor was excessive alcohol consumption. Patients who drank heavily had a decrease in fertility by 16 percent.

But Ballard said one of the most impactful components has to do with a person’s body mass index.

"The biggest factor though, that can be detrimental to fertility, is obesity,” he said. “Patients who have a body mass index of 30 percent or higher have a decreased fertility rate of 50 percent, lower than those patients who have a normal body mass index."

Experts say that if couples are having trouble getting pregnant, wait six to 12 months before going to see a doctor.

To view other Wellness Wednesday stories on our website, click here.

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