Causes of Infertility for Men and Women Who Can’t Get Pregnant

The causes of infertility for men and women who can’t get pregnant range from health problems to career stress. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, you may be wondering “Can I even get pregnant?”

causes of infertility men womenI can’t answer that, but I have gathered 20 possible causes of infertility – one of which may be stopping you from conceiving a baby. First, an important thing to remember about whose “fault” it is if you can’t get pregnant:

“In about 40% of the cases [of infertility], the problem resides in the woman, and in 40%, the problem is in the man’s reproductive system,” says obstetrician, gynecologist, and infertility expert Robert Thompson, MD. “The rest of the time there may be a problem with both the man and the woman.” (alive magazine, February, 2009).

To dig deeper into your problems with getting pregnant, read Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage & IVF Failure – Explained and Treated.

And, here are 20 possible causes of infertility for men and women…

Causes of Infertility for Women

  • Age – fertility decreases after age 30, decreases more after 35, and practically plummets after age 40.
  • Underweight or overweight – women with Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) over 30 and under 20 are less likely to get pregnant. Ideal BMI is between 20 and 30.
  • Hormonal changes – some health problems cause hormonal changes, which can cause decreased fertility or infertility.
  • Miscarriages – the more miscarriages a woman has, the less likely she may be to get pregnant
  • Sexually transmitted diseases – can affect a woman’s reproductive system.
  • Fibroids or endometriosis – depending on how advanced the disease is.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease – can cause problems for women who can’t get pregnant.

Causes of Infertility for Men

  • Age – but a woman’s age affects her ability to get pregnant more than a man’s age.
  • Warm temperatures for testes – laptop computers and “tighty whities” (close fitting underwear) can affect sperm production, motility, and count.
  • Prescription medications – can affect sperm and prevent pregnancy.
  • Testicular abnormalities – such as varicocoeles can damage or eliminate sperm

Read 4 Ways to Make Sperm Healthy for fertility tips for men.

Causes of Infertility for Both Men and Women

  • Environmental toxins – pesticides, lead, and even common household cleansers can contribute to problems getting pregnant.
  • Career stress – can lead to physical and emotional problems getting pregnant.
  • Recreational drug use
  • Poor diet, no exercise
  • Radiation treatments for cancer
  • Smoking – does not increase fertility and can be a cause of infertility for men and women

If you’ve been wondering why you can’t get pregnant and some of the above causes of infertility are familiar to you,  talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Fixing possible obstacles to pregnancy and getting pregnant can take months or years…so you want to deal with potential problems right away! 

If you can’t get pregnant and you’ve been trying for over a year, read 5 Signs You Should See a Fertility Doctor.


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43 Responses

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Often there is no known cause of infertility in the man or woman when they’re trying to get pregnant. That’s the frustrating part!

    Here’s an article that will help you keep your hopes up when you’re trying to conceive:

    How to Stop Feeling Hopeless When You’re TTC

    May you be blessed with a healthy pregnancy quickly!

  2. Tom says:

    I have had a problem due to medication in my 30s, maybe this is a cause of male infertility and stopping us from getting pregnant. One trip to the hospital or an illness with a medication can cause big unforeseen problems. As we know all medicines have side effects that can cause infertility in men and women. What is to say that those side effects are not deliberately structured in the medications, vaccinations and such?

  3. ritu says:

    I m 27 n my husband is 28 I got pregnant in 2010 due to bp fluctuation on 7 month dr delivered child .child was dead. So since 2012 I was trying to conceive. But there is no positive result.mine and my husband test is whats the reason I fail in conceive.

  4. Laurie says:

    If you know you can’t get pregnant because of a specific cause of infertility, have you thought about adoption? I don’t think that all fertility problems can be fixed with supplements or pregnancy products. Sometimes you just can’t have a baby — like me and my husband can’t. It’s sad and disappointing…but it’s just the way it is. I’m sorry to hear of your cause of infertility, but I encourage you to find meaning and hope in a different source.

  5. gudila says:

    Am 35 years trying to conceive for six years now , but I have visit hospitals but they said I cant conceive due to my blood group which is 0 negative and also the weight. I head that forever living product they have product which can assist me so please help me because I want baby.

  6. Laurie says:

    If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, the best thing is to see a fertility doctor, gynecologist, or urologist in person. That’s the only way to get a diagnosis and figure out why you’re having trouble conceiving a baby.

  7. sue says:


    i’ve been trying to get pregnant for the 2nd time. i did give birth to my 1st chid 9/2006 and see died 11/2006 and then from there i’ve tried and this 2012 and preset been trying so hard to get pregnant but it seems that i am too old. i’m 35 yrs. old (female) and my bf is 32 yrs. old. he is also unable to make his gf(1st) pregnant. would it be possible that he has a problem or me? i really would like to have a baby again even just one. i don’t know what to do anymore.

  8. Tim says:

    Hi there, I am 33years old this 2013. I started trying to make a woman fall pregnant 2011 and she she was conceived but later had a miscarriage towards her fourth month. We separated and had another woman, but her menstruation started to be abnormal as it takes 2weeks full and before it was only 4days and she can’t fall pregnant. I try eat healthy and food full of antioxidant but I fail. i haven’t visited the doctor about this, what can i do..

  9. Florence B says:

    I am infected with STDs but im worried.Can i get pregnant? I have gone to hospital but nothing has being done please help me.

  10. susan says:

    i hv a son who was born on 21st March, 2009 and i got pregnant in 2010 january and had a miscarriage in march 2010, i decied to rest for about 7 months and we were using condoms and then we stopped using condoms inorder for me to get pregnant but all in vein upto now what could be the problem and am 40years this year. kindly help for me to conceive

  11. Vanessa g. says:

    Hi my name is Vanessa and I been trying to get pregnant for the past 4 years! I been married for two years now and me and my husband been trying and nothing. I try not to stress out everytime I get my period but it’s so hard. What should I do?

  12. wendy says:

    Hi laurie, just to let you know, not pregnant,
    Rather sad being 5 days late! But still hopefull
    That one day we-ll be blesed with a baby!

  13. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hello Wendy,

    I hope you’re pregnant! I’ll send fertility and pregnancy prayers your way….

    After your period is a week late, then it’s time for a pregnancy test. Let me know how it goes!


  14. Wendy says:

    Dear Laurie

    Ok I hope im not getting excited for nothing, im 2 days late, breasts are tender but normally do get when i am due my period, and I’m tired and up and down to the loo.
    But there are light cramps and im having what feels like heart flutters. Lol strange?

  15. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hi Pamela,

    If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for two years and nothing has happened, it means that you and your partner need to get checked for possible causes of infertility!

    Go see your doctor, my friend. Get a few basic fertility tests done, and take it one step at a time…


  16. Pamela says:

    @laurie it has been 2 years and I have been trying! So what would dat mean?

  17. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Pamela ~ Congratulations on having your first child 3 years ago — I join you in thanking God! About trying to get pregnant again, I encourage you to talk to your obgyn or a fertility doctor. I don’t know how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant, but remember that it’s normal to take up to a year to conceive. If it’s been less than a year, then keep trying with the ovulation tests and healthy living. Let me know how it goes!

    Karen ~ Yes, tenderness and cramps could be a sign of pregnancy….but the only thing you can do is keep waiting and praying. I sure hope you are…have you taken a pregnancy test?


  18. Karen says:

    Hi, I have been trying for about 4 months now, still not pregnant. I am TTC. I have ovulated on Nov.6th and Nov. 7th. Right after that I have been having mild cramps and breast tenderness. What does that mean? Can I be pregnant?

  19. Pamela says:

    Hey I been trying to get pregnant for 2 and a half years now! Thank god I was blessed with my first child 3 years ago! But me and my husband been trying and still nothing work! We even tried the ovalation tests out the store and those didn’t help! Can somebody please give me some ideas or help! I love my marriage and I really need help!

  20. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Griezl ~ Yes, you still have hope for getting pregnant! The first thing you need to do is quit smoking and drinking — same with your husband. Next, you need to learn about your ovulation cycle so you know when you’re most fertile. And finally, remember that it takes most couples a year on average to get pregnant. Five months isn’t that long…so keep trying!

    Tanya ~ I encourage you to see a fertility doctor or ob/gyn. It’s great that you don’t have any blockages, but there may be other reasons you’re not getting pregnant. And, it’s a good idea for your partner to have his sperm checked.

    Jane – Definitely, use the ovulation predictor kit! That’s one of the best ways to get pregnant successfully. If you can’t get pregnant after a year of trying, then it’s time to see a doctor.

    Remember, it takes most couples a year on average to get pregnant….it seems like a long time, but it’s normal to take a year!


  21. Jane says:

    Me and my partner have been trying for a baby for the last 8 months of so. My periods are really regular and on time every month and get really depressed about it, as time goes by im starting to get more worried about this. Before I met my partner I did take the morning after pill twice with previous partners. I also had a irregular smear test result but i went for tests but it turned out to be very mild and was fine. Im 25 and my partner is 24, and my weight is 7 and a half stone but i do find im a healthy girl and so is my partner, we used to have intecourse 4 times a week but now its once or twice a week as we find it impossible. I did buy an ovulation kit but I have not used it yet. Hope you can advise us

  22. Elmajaxfl says:

    Tanya: Try using Ovulation Test kits ,lots of woman used this and very high success rates. and other thing put your husband on a healthy diet. Lots of OB/GYN Dr said that after intercourse to put a pillow under your buttocks for atleast 20minutes.

  23. Tanya says:

    For your info, i have done HSG test 4 months ago & no block tubes….
    Why is it delaying? What can be the reason.

  24. Tanya says:

    Hi There,

    I am married for a year and i am 27 years old. I have regular cycle (34 days cycle). Sometimes on time & sometimes delay but never missed at all. I will spot the 1st day, heavy 2nd day & will be very little on 3rd and 4th day. Now i am trying to conceive last 1 year with no success. I do ovulate last month as i gave up & checked using OPK. Is it possible for me to have child? What can do next? Thank You.

  25. Griezl says:

    Hi…so here it is…I’m 20 and just married. My husband and I tried to conceive for 5 months. He drinks a lot and so do I and I also do smoke since 13. So, is being into alcoholic beverages a reason that we can’t conceive? if yes, do we still have hope? What should we about it?

  26. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Yes, seeing a doctor is a good idea — but bear in mind that many doctors don’t consider not getting pregnant a “problem” until it’s been a year of trying. You may not be dealing with a possible cause of infertility — it takes most couples an average of a year to get pregnant.

    A trip to the doc can’t hurt. But, I also encourage you to time intercourse for the most fertile days of the month. Ovulation predictor kits are fantastic.

    How Ovulation Predictor Kits Work

    I hope this helps, and would love to hear the good news of your pregnancy soon!


  27. Wendy says:

    hi I’m 28 and really worried something might be wrong with me.
    i have a regular period and no history of problems in the family, we have been trying for a few months, should i see a doc?

  28. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thanks — this are great tips, Alison!

    I think alot of women know this in their head, but have a hard time convincing their heart.

  29. Alison @ Femita says:

    All you can really do is live a healthy life (diet, exercise), get tested for STDs, see a gynecologist and relax. Try not too focus too much on getting pregnant. There are many ways how life can be fulfilling to people. Having a child is one of them, but not the only option. Live your life, focus on the good things and who knows what the future might bring.

  30. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Dear Ally,

    Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming marriage! That’s very exciting 🙂

    I don’t think a burst appendix can affect fertility or getting pregnant. Same with your stomach scar — that shouldn’t be a cause of infertility.

    But, if you’re seriously concerned about it and want peace of mind, I encourage you to get checked out by your doctor. Getting pregnant can be complicated, and involves many personal health factors that can only be confirmed by a doctor who examines you in person!

    I wish you all the best in your marriage and future family.


  31. Ally says:

    I had appendix burst when I was 9 years old. Now I’m 22, and I am getting married in October. Can that cause a problem of conceiving? And where should I go to do my check-up? I also have a big scar on my stomach – is that a problem?

  32. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hi Rita,

    I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get pregnant, and I know how disappointing it is. I’ve been trying to conceive for about 4 years now…and I don’t think we’ll get pregnant.

    I don’t have you the answer to your question — I don’t know why you didn’t conceive. Even fertility doctors don’t know the answer to that most of the time. There are so many factors that affect getting pregnant, and many of those factors are unknown to us. Medicine may be a science, but it’s still full of mystery.

    Don’t lose hope, my friend. Stay positive and hopeful that you will get pregnant….and keep talking to your fertility doctor and trying different ways to get pregnant. Sometimes it just takes a long time….but those women who took forever to conceive say it was worth the wait!

    I wish you all the best.


  33. rita says:

    My last period was on 15 of March. on 31 injection was given to me for egg rupture(size of the folicle was 20.3mm). From that day i used to check my basal body temparature it was to be 98.1 F to 98.6. My period i get on 28th or 29th day. This time i got it on 17th April Afternoon almost on 35th day. why i didn’t conceive

  34. rita says:

    i am trying to conceive from past 4 years. But nothing has happend till today. I usually get my periods on 29th day. earlier my follicles used to be small now it is 20mm or 18. This month till 34th day i didn’t get my period. I thought i am pregnant i used to get symptoms like tender breast, gum bleeding, eevning sickness, head ache and tirdness. My husband semen test is positive. why i am not conceiving?

  35. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Hi Olivia,

    I’m sorry to hear that it’s taking so long for you to get pregnant — but three months really isn’t that long!

    Keep trying, and time your ovulation and temperatures to find the best times to get pregnant, for nine more months. If you still aren’t pregnant in nine months, then talk to your doctor about the various types of infertility tests.

    Let me know how it goes…I’d love to hear that you’re pregnant!


  36. Oliva Anderson says:

    I can’t get pregnant after three months of trying. How do I know which is my cause of infertility?

  37. Laurie PK says:

    Thanks for your comment, Alice. What’s the cure for infertility? I don’t allow url’s in the comments section (too spammy), but if you describe it a little, I’m sure people would love to know!

  38. Alice Brown says:

    It took 5 years before my husband and I were able to successfully conceive. It could really be a rough ride with so many ups and downs. But I am grateful that before we even tried IVF, I was able to find the cure for infertility.

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