Recognizing the Signs of Infertility

Dr. Randy Morris

Recognizing the Signs of Infertility

Dr. Randy Morris
Image of a doctor explaining signs of infertility to a patient on a digital tablet

Infertility affects millions of people across the globe, touching the lives of people across various age groups. Fortunately, recognizing early signs can help improve your chances of successful pregnancy in the future.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected sex for couples where the female partner is under 35, or after six months if the female partner is 35 or older. But what signs should you look out for? In this article, we’ll cover signs of infertility and when to see a fertility specialist.  

Signs of Infertility in Women

In females, the following signs might hint at potential fertility issues:

A woman using a calendar to track her menstrual cycle

Irregular menstrual cycle: If your periods come too often (less than 24 days apart), too infrequently (more than 35 days apart), or are unpredictable, this might indicate a problem with ovulation.

Abnormal menstrual bleeding: Experiencing unusually heavy or light bleeding or bleeding with abnormal colorings can be a sign. Periods shouldn’t feel unpredictable or like a flood.

Painful menstruation: While cramps are normal, severe pain may not be. It could be a sign of conditions like endometriosis, which can affect fertility.

Recurrent miscarriages: If you’ve experienced two or more miscarriages, it might indicate an underlying issue needing attention.

Hormonal changes: Hormonal imbalances play a critical role in fertility, with conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) leading to significant challenges in conceiving. Symptoms to watch out for include unusual hair growth, mood swings, adult acne, vaginal dryness, and changes in sexual desire. Early detection and management of these imbalances can be key to improving fertility outcomes.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above and are trying to become pregnant, female fertility testing can be useful to give you an idea of where you stand.

Signs of Infertility in Men

Signs of infertility in males may be less obvious but are equally important to recognize. These include:

Changes in sexual desire: A significant change in libido can sometimes be linked to fertility issues. This can be caused by an imbalance in hormones necessary for sperm production, such as testosterone.  

Testicular pain or swelling: Any discomfort, pain, or swelling in the testicles requires medical attention. This can be a sign of infection, injury, or a medical condition that could negatively impact sperm production or quality.

Problems with erections or ejaculation: Difficulty maintaining an erection or ejaculating can impact the ability to conceive since these issues directly impact the successful delivery of sperm to the vaginal canal during intercourse.

Small, firm testicles: The size and consistency of the testicles can sometimes be an indicator of how well they function. Small and firm testicles can be a sign of a condition called testicular atrophy, which can result in reduced sperm production. This can happen for a variety of reasons, like hormonal imbalance, urogenital surgeries, or certain genetic conditions.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs above and are trying to start a family, male infertility testing may be helpful to get a better picture of where you stand.

How Lifestyle Impacts Fertility

It is important to note that lifestyle factors and health issues can sometimes be the underlying cause of some signs that indicate infertility. If you are significantly overweight or underweight, have a history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are a smoker or drink excessively, or experience chronic stress, your fertility may be impacted. Addressing how lifestyle factors impact fertility is important for anyone looking to understand infertility.

If you are experiencing signs of infertility, you should pay attention to the following lifestyle factors:

Weight: Excess body fat can lead to hormonal imbalances, problems with ovulation, and problems with sperm count and motility. Being significantly underweight can disrupt hormonal balances and cause irregular menstrual cycles, ovulation issues, and sperm quality issues. Extreme dieting, poor dieting, and too much exercise are also unhealthy, as a healthy weight range and diet enhance the chances of becoming pregnant.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): STIs, particularly chlamydia and gonorrhea, can silently wreak havoc on your reproductive system. This can lead to damaged fallopian tubes and ovaries, and inflammation of the reproductive organs that affects sperm production and quality.

Smoking and Excessive Drinking: Smoking tobacco has been linked to reduced fertility, as it can affect the ovaries and lead to damaged, lost, or prematurely aged eggs. Smoking can also decrease sperm count, motility, and morphology, making it harder to achieve pregnancy. Heavy alcohol use can lead to decreased libido and reduced sperm quality and cause ovulation disorders or early menopause. Even moderate drinking can impact fertility and make it harder to conceive.

Stress: Chronic stress can affect fertility by altering hormone levels, which can interfere with ovulation in women and sperm production in men. Stress can also lead to lifestyle habits that negatively impact fertility, such as poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol use.

Understanding how these factors impact fertility is the first step towards making changes that can improve your reproductive health. If you’re concerned about how these factors might be affecting your fertility, talking to a fertility specialist can provide you with personalized advice and treatment options. Remember, while some fertility issues can be directly linked to these factors, comprehensive medical evaluation and care are often needed to address the complex nature of infertility.

Getting Pregnant With Infertility

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of infertility, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re infertile. Many conditions are treatable, and our team is here to help you. With the right support and medical advice, many couples and individuals overcome infertility with the help of treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and donor sperm o donor donor eggs. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and your first step toward fulfilling your dreams of building your family.

If you’re concerned about infertility, schedule a consultation with us today. Together, we’ll help you navigate your path and get you where you need to be to start your family.