Infertility might feel like it snuck up on you but typically, there are warning signs of this potential issue. If you know what to look for, it is possible to catch them early and manage the symptoms before they become serious problems. Not everyone shows obvious signs of infertility, but being aware of the symptoms could help put you on the road to conception.
- Irregular periods
Any irregularity in your menstrual cycle could be a red flag for infertility. Missing your period - a phenomenon known as amenorrhea - is one of the most prominent signs. Women who miss three or more consecutive periods, as well as those who haven’t started menstruating by the age of 15, are said to have amenorrhea. Another sign is periods that last too long (more than 35 days) or not long enough (fewer than 21 days).
Other early signs of infertility relating to your menstrual cycle include:
- A heavier flow
- More painful than is usual (Dysmenorrhea)
- Paler or darker menstrual blood
- Bleeding in the middle of your cycle
Bring these symptoms up with your doctor immediately so they can be addressed as soon as possible. With a change in diet and exercise, it is possible for the irregularity to cease. However, if the issues continue, you may want to ask your doctor about ovarian cysts.
- Hormonal Imbalances
A hormonal imbalance will show its own symptoms that on their own may not necessarily mean infertility, but when compounded could result in impaired fertility. Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance in women include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Drastic weight gain or loss
- Skin issues/Adult acne
- Hair loss/Unusual hair growth
Separately, these symptoms may not hold much meaning, but when considered together, they could add up to fertility problems. Talk to your doctor if a combination of these symptoms begin to develop.
- Scar tissue
Have you had a pelvic infection? Scar tissue left behind by a pelvic infection could cause a blockage in your fallopian tubes, resulting in problems conceiving. The scar tissue can be removed via laparoscopic surgery.
While not necessarily a symptom, women over the age of 35 experience a serious drop in their chance of conceiving during any one cycle. The average woman aged 30 has approximately 20% chance of conceiving during her cycle. By comparison, women aged 40 have around a 5% chance of conceiving during a cycle.
- Issues with sexual function
Men with fertility issues often experience a decrease in sexual function. This could include everything from a decline in sexual desire, a decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated, or difficulty retaining an erection.
- Pain in testicle region
Any pain, lumps, or swelling of the area around the testicles could be considered a symptom of infertility. Consult with your doctor for a second opinion.
- Respiratory problems
Recurring respiratory infections could point to infertility, both of which could be a sign of immotile cilia syndrome, or more specifically Kartagener syndrome. An inability to smell could also be a sign of fertility problems.
- Low sperm count
A lower than normal sperm count is, according to Mayo Clinic, considered to be “fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate.” While this is not a readily apparent symptom, your doctor will be able to tell you this number with testing and assess the normality and health of your sperm.
While many of these symptoms can develop independently of infertility symptoms, talking to a doctor about them can help ensure that any problems are addressed sooner rather than later, allowing you to begin trying to start a family when you are ready. Always check with your doctor before attempting any method of treating the symptoms, to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis. If you are interested in learning more on how to aid conception or information on improving fertility, sign up for our newsletter below.