Many patients are curious about whether fertility issues their parents might have struggled with may have a role in their own ability to get pregnant. My answer is always the same: your parents’ issues will not necessarily become yours.
In general, the more you know about your family’s health history, the more your medical team can start using those facts in evaluating your overall health and fertility picture.
There are many possible causes for decreased fertility, including endometriosis, fibroids, premature menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, low sperm count, underlying conditions, and physical issues. Some of these – hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome in particular – do tend to run in families.
Still, patterns of fertility in your family may not predict how easily you will conceive.
We know, for example, that fertility decreases with age. In general, older women have a lower chance of getting pregnant. By the time women are 30 years old, a quarter of them will have issues with fertility. If your mom or sister was trying to conceive around age 40 or later, that could have been the source of her difficulties.