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Categories > Pregnancy and Childbirth > Infertility

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Two to tango
Surprising factors for infertility

» For women

» For men

» For women and men

Is technology to blame?

Can a laptop or a cell phone affect a man’s chances of having kids? Possibly, say some researchers.

Resting a laptop on the lap for long periods can increase temperatures in the scrotum. And a Cleveland Clinic study found that the more men used cell phones, the lower their sperm count was. A cell phone placed near the waist could raise testes temperature. And exposing the brain to electromagnetic radiation by holding a cell phone near the ear could interfere with hormones essential to sperm production, researchers hypothesize. Concerned? Suggest your husband use his laptop on a tray or a table and carry his cell phone in his briefcase or coat pocket.

Men and women contribute equally to the reasons for infertility, so your provider must consider you both when determining why you can’t conceive.

As women age, egg quality declines and miscarriage risk rises. But infertility may be caused by many other factors, too.

For women

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause scarring and blockages in the fallopian tubes, keeping the egg from reaching the uterus. PID can be caused by sexually transmitted infections, other bacteria or by douching.
  • Hypothyroidism. Untreated, hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, causes low levels of thyroid hormone, which can interfere with ovulation and increase miscarriage risk.
  • Abnormalities in the uterus. Polyps, scar tissue or uterine fibroids may hurt your chances of conception.
  • Exercise. Working out too hard can lead to a lack of periods. If that’s the case, you may not be ovulating, making pregnancy impossible.

For men

  • Temperature changes. Tight underwear, prolonged sitting, biking or spending too much time in a sauna, hot tub or steam room can affect sperm production.
  • Pollution. Environmental toxins such as lead and pesticides can affect sperm quality.
  • Illegal drugs. Marijuana can decrease the amount of sperm and limit their ability to move. Other drugs can cause erectile dysfunction and decreased sex drive.

For women and men

  • Smoking. It harms the ovaries and may speed egg loss and affect egg quality. For men, smoking affects sperm quality and quantity.
  • Weight. Too much fat can spur your body to make too much estrogen, making it think it’s on birth control. But if you don’t have enough fat, you may not make enough estrogen, sending your reproductive cycle into shutdown mode. In men, fat can lead to a decreased sperm count and a higher number of abnormal sperm.

Couples under age 30 should try to conceive for a year before seeing a healthcare provider. Over 30? Wait just six months.

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