Signs of Infertility in Men and Women
Planning for a baby can be an exciting but long process. One important preparation is to pay attention to your fertility level, which decreases with age. So, it is not a bad idea to learn how to spot signs of infertility or fertility health issues.
Infertility is defined as unable to get pregnant after a year of regular and unprotected sex. It occurs more common than you might think, in both men and women. CDC reports that 12.1% of women aged 15-44 are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to birth, and about 6% of married women aged 15-44 are infertile.
Infertility is not just a woman’s problem. A male problem is also identified along with the female problem in 35% of couples with infertility, and a male factor is the only cause in 8% of the couples with infertility.
As WebMD explained, in 20% of couples with infertility, the cause is never identified. Either the man or woman doesn’t show fertility problems, but they have troubles conceiving after a year of trying. Timing, age, lifestyle, and stress can all contribute to your fertility level.
Signs of female infertility
Here are some common signs of infertility in women. If you find any of these symptoms of infertility applies to you, don’t panic. None of them means infertility is down the road for sure for you, and many of them are temporary and can be improved through medical treatment. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns if you are actively trying to conceive and experiencing these symptoms. There are many options out there to help.
Hormones regulate a woman’s cycle and fertility. Hormone issues occur when there is too much or too little hormone in the blood. These changes result in side effects throughout the body. Some hormone issues may indicate fertility issues. Instead of going to the lab to draw blood every time, see how Mira tracks your hormones at home.
A sudden change of your skin, such as severe acne, can indicate your hormone level is off. Excessive level of androgens is of the main causes of acne, which is commonly seen with women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). With PCOS, your body produces excessive androgen, which is known as a male hormone, as it is usually found in the male. High level of androgens disrupts the rhythm of women’s cycle, interfering with egg maturation and egg release, along with other problems like acne and weight gain.
PCOS is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. So, if you suspect you may be affected by it, you are not alone. Check your hormone levels and consult with a doctor immediately. Severe acne might have nothing to do with your fertility, but it’s worth to find out.
Facial hair growth
With more androgens, unwanted hair grows on your face or body. If this sounds familiar to you, check with your doctor to see if you are suffering from undiagnosed PCOS. Pregnancy with PCOS isn’t impossible. After treatment, many women with PCOS do ovulate and get pregnant eventually.
Hair loss can also be a symptom of hormone imbalances. Although it could be affected by many factors such as family history, stress, or medication, it also can be a sign of PCOS, which can cause trouble conceiving. Go check it out if you experience severe hair loss.
Reduced sex drive
A major loss of sex drive can signify a lot of things. You might be highly stressed or depressed, or you are taking certain medication which affected your hormone level. However, endometriosis can cause reduced sex drive and pain during sex, also having trouble getting pregnant.
Unexplained weight gain can also be a sign of PCOS. PCOS affects how the body responds to insulin, which is called insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, the body responds to insulin well, which leaves a high level of glucose molecules in the blood and low energy. Over time, it causes weight gain.
The average woman’s menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Cycles can range from 21-35 days in adults. It is considered regular if the cycles are consistent. With an irregular menstrual cycle, the periods are unpredictable. It is impossible to know when the next period will come. This is commonly seen in women who have hormone imbalances, especially PCOS, which affects fertility.
If you experience a heavy or painful period that hampers your daily activity, it can be a symptom of endometriosis or fibroids. Endometriosis happens when the uterus lining grows into other places, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. It causes 20-40% of infertility in women.
Excessive stress or lifestyle change may cause you to skip a period occasionally. However, if you are used to having them but they suddenly stopped, then you are not ovulating. The crucial part of fertility is ovulation. So, if you have no period at all, it is a very clear sign that you could have a fertility issue.
Pain during sex
It may sound normal to many women, but severe or lasting pain during sex could be a sign of endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Signs of male infertility
Male contributes to infertility as the other half of the equation when it comes to fertility. In addition to sperm quality and sperm count which contributes directly to the ability to fertilize the egg, you may want to pay attention to his following symptoms and seek doctor’s help if they sound familiar to you.
Reduced sex drive
Male fertility is also regulated by hormones. Reduced virility could mean hormone issues that affect fertility.
Testicle houses a men’s sperm. Testicle pain, swelling, changes in size and firmness could indicate fertility issues that should be seen by a doctor.
Problems maintaining erection
The ability to maintain an erection is governed by male hormones. Reduced hormone levels can result in erection problems, leading to possible infertility.
Issues with ejaculation
Similarly, problems with ejaculation affect fertility and should be explored by a medical practitioner.
If you are wondering: what’s the best fertility clinic near you (or in the US overall), you can select your state here and you will see local clinics that may be close to home and a quick snapshot of some of their CDC-provided data.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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