The first and most obvious sign of infertility is the inability to achieve pregnancy. The couple may have no other signs or symptoms of infertility. They may not even have thought about it very much, but after some time come to the realization that they haven’t gotten pregnant yet.
What should you do if you suspect there may be something inhibiting pregnancy? What are the signs and symptoms of infertility? What are the reasons for infertility? What can I do to find out if I am experiencing infertility?
Infertility SymptomsSome couples may not have obvious signs of infertility. While others know that they have have been diagnosed with a fertility issue in the past. Approximately 90% of couples will achieve pregnancy within the first 12 months of unprotected intercourse. Most of the remaining 10% will go on to have children either naturally or through medical assistance such as IVF.
If you suspect you may be experiencing infertility, here are signs to look for…
Signs of Infertility in Women
Irregular menstrual cycles
- Absent menstruation (amenorrhea)
- Short (less than 21 days)
- Long (over 35 days)
- Heavy or long menstruation
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
- Short menstruation time
- Very pale menstruation
- Clotty or very dark purple/black menstruation
- Mid-cycle bleeding
Irregular menstrual cycles may be a sign of hormonal imbalance, or other more serious fertility issues. If any of the these hormones are not at the correct levels, the menstrual cycle may become irregular. Hormonal Imbalance may cause a variety of other health related issues that may affect quality of life. For example thinning hair, heart palpitations, low libido, depression, ect.
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
- Androgens for example DHEA, Testosterone
- Thyroid hormones
Over the Age of 35
Women over 35 may experience a decrease in fertility. The average 30 year old woman has a 20% chance of getting pregnant during any one cycle, but by the age of 40 that chance decreases to only a 5% chance of naturally conceiving during any one cycle. If you are over 35 years of age and you have been trying for 6 months or more unsuccessfully, it is time to see a doctor.
Previous Fertility Related Diagnosis
- Uterine Fibroids
- Ovarian Cysts
- Recurrent Miscarriages (more than 3)
- Blocked Fallopian Tubes
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Signs of Infertility in Men
We tend to think that if a couple is not getting pregnant there must be a problem with the female partner. In reality, there is just as much of a chance that the problem is with the male partner or even both partners. This is why it is always a good idea to have both partners get infertility testing done.
Men tend to not have as many detectable signs or symptoms of infertility, this is because they do not have a monthly menstrual cycle. It may take a bit more monitoring of the bodily functions to detect there is an issue. Sperm count tests are easy to do, and are the first step in determining if there may be male factor infertility. A complete semen analysis performed by your doctor will determine the following:
There can be hormonal balance in men. The number one hormonal imbalance in men is with testosterone and estrogen. Other health related problems may contribute to hormonal balance in men. Poor diet and lifestyle choices are the most common reason for hormonal imbalance and low sperm count and health. Common signs of hormonal imbalance in men are low libido, abnormal hair growth, and erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is inability to maintain or sustain erection during sexual arousal or activity. If erection cannot be sustained, ejaculation may not take place, which is not so good for baby making. There are a variety of reasons this may happen, including other health related problems (see below), but if this problem lasts for an extended period of time, it is time to see the doctor. This may happen as men age; men 40 and over.
The most common hormonal imbalance in men:
Sperm Count, Health & Delivery Issues
- Vas Deferens blockage-varicoceles or STD damage
- Low sperm count (oligospermia)
- Abnormal sperm shape (teratozoospermia)
- Abnormal or poor sperm movement (asthenozoospermia)
- Immobile sperm (necrozoospermia)-this is when the sperm do not move at all; the sperm may be dead, partially alive or alive, but do not move.
- Abnormal sperm production
- Genetic disorders
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Vasectomy reversal- Up to 70% of men with vasectomy develop antisperm antibodies.
- Physical or structural abnormalities such as undescended testicle.
Other Health Related Factors and Problems that Affect Both Women and Men
Other health related problems may cause hormonal imbalance, poor egg health, low ovarian reserve, or poor/abnormal immune response which may affect conception.
- Thyroid issues
- Poor Adrenal Health
- Very low body weight
- Autoimmune disease
- Cancer (chemotherapy and radiation may cause Premature Ovarian Failure or Low Sperm count and health)
- Injury or trauma to reproductive organs, or one of the endocrine glands.
- Drug Addiction
- Long-term use of medications
- Heavy exposure to radiation or other environmental pollution
When To See A DoctorIf you have been trying for a year or more to get pregnant, or if you are over the age of 35 and have been trying for 6 months or longer without success, it is time to see a doctor. If you suspect or have any of the above risk factors that may be a sign of infertility, it is very important to see a doctor. While your family doctor or gynecologist may be able to help with initial testing, further testing from a Reproductive Endocrinologist or even possibly a Reproductive Immunologist may be necessary.
Where Can I Get More Information?We have hundreds of articles on most of the topics covered in this article. Instead of bombarding the entire article with links, I think you will find it very easy to perform a search at our main website www.Natural-Fertility-Info.com. Our main search menu is on the upper left hand side of the page in the green bar at the top of the page. We also have a search bar (top right hand side of the page) where you can type in any of the keywords from this article. For example, you can type in the word smoking, this will bring up all related articles on that subject, including a main article on how smoking affects fertility and what you can do naturally to work to quit smoking and restore healthy fertility.
In addition, it is important to talk to your doctor about options specific to your needs. Clear communication with your doctor and other natural health care practitioners you may be working with will help you to receive the best care for your individual needs.