After years of trying, my husband and I finally had a baby girl through in vitro fertilization. I don’t want her to suffer with fertility problems as an adult. Is it possible that infertility is hereditary?

Genetics sometimes plays a role in both female and male infertility. If you suffer from endometriosis, your daughter is at increased risk for the same condition. Endometriosis, which affects about 10 percent of all women, can cause tubal infertility. Another condition that could be hereditary is polycystic ovarian syndrome – a source of ovulation problems. There also seems to be a genetic component to certain aspects of male factor infertility. A small percentage of men have microscopic abnormalities in the DNA of the Y chromosome that leads to their infertility problems. With the advent of in vitro fertilization and ICSI (taking a single sperm and injecting it into the egg) many of these men pass this genetic defect to their offspring. But DNA isn’t necessarily destiny. And even if your daughter does suffer from infertility, it’s unlikely that her struggle will be comparable to yours. When we compare our present understanding of infertility and its treatment with that of 20 years ago, we realize that we have made remarkable progress. Our ability to identify the cause of infertility and develop cost-effective treatments continues to improve. I suspect that when your daughter comes of age, the diagnostic and treatment options that will be available to her will certainly be different and will likely make the process of infertility treatment much less of an ordeal.

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