Are Fertility Problems Hereditary?

Infertility is the result of a number of factors, but some are hereditary. For instance, a person may have a high risk of polycystic ovary syndrome. But ovulation problems can also be caused by lifestyle and environmental factors. For men, infertility is most often a result of poor quality semen.

Y chromosome infertility

Y chromosome infertilty is a hereditary disorder affecting a man’s ability to father children. It is most common among men with no previous history of infertility, although men with a family history of infertility can also develop the disorder. Men who develop the disorder inherit genetic changes from their fathers and pass them onto all of their sons. This is known as a “Y-linked inheritance,” in which the male offspring inherit the Y chromosome from their fathers and do not inherit it from their mother.

Cystic fibrosis

Fertility issues are common in people with cystic fibrosis, but not in every case. A significant percentage of men with CF are azoospermic – that is, they lack vas deferens. Because of this, their sperm is not viable for conception. However, men with CF can still get pregnant by undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Fragile X syndrome

Fragile X syndrome and fertility problems can both be inherited from either a mother or father. Mothers with a damaged FMR1 gene are more likely to have a child with the condition, while fathers with a premutation are unlikely to have an affected child. Men with a premutation do not have an increased risk of passing on the condition, but they do have a 50 percent chance of passing it on to their children.

Cystic fibrosis-associated primary ovarian insufficiency

The risk of pregnancy and fertility problems is greater in women with cystic fibrosis, which causes them to have thick cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from reaching the ovaries. In addition, women with CF are more likely to experience irregular ovulation, which results in an increased time to pregnancy. However, despite the risk, most women with CF are able to become pregnant. In fact, 85 percent of couples with CF conceive within 12 months of stopping contraception.


There is no known cause of endometriosis, but the condition tends to run in families. Research has indicated that women with a family history of endometriosis have a seven to ten times higher risk of developing the condition. Genetic studies have identified seven genetic areas associated with increased risk of developing the condition. Women with these abnormalities are more likely to develop severe cases of the disease. These women are more likely to develop pelvic distortions and scar tissue. However, people with milder cases of the disease may still be able to conceive.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are a common condition. Although not officially a hereditary condition, having a family history of uterine fibroids should prompt you to have periodic fibroid screenings. Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that can range in size from a few millimeters to as large as a pumpkin. They may appear as a single mass or in clusters. There is no definitive cure for uterine fibroids, but they can be treated and prevented.