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Does Infertility Have Symptoms?

Katlyn Joy |11, June 2014


Infertility is not an uncommon problem. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6.1 million women in the US have infertility issues. That's approximately 10 percent of women of childbearing age.

However, infertility isn't a woman's problem; it's a condition a couple must deal with together. Approximately one-third of fertility issues can be traced to the man, another one-third to the woman and the remaining cases are a combination or the cause cannot be determined.

But besides the inability to get pregnant, are there any symptoms or signs that infertility may be an issue?

Infertility Symptoms in Women

Sometimes the first inkling of a problem is when you try to get pregnant and months pass without success. If you are 35 and under and you've been trying for a year without getting pregnant, you should consult a physician as you will have met the criteria for infertility. If you are older than 35, you should seek help sooner, as your fertility window is shorter now, so talk to a doctor if you've been trying for six months or longer.

Signs of a hormonally based cause of infertility in women include:

  • Unexplained weight gain.
  • Skin problems or changes, such as increased acne.
  • Thinning hair or hair loss.
  • Increased dark facial or body hair.
  • Changes in your sex drive.
  • Discharge from your nipples not associated with breastfeeding.
  • Painful intercourse.

Signs of ovulation based cause of infertility in women include:

  • Problems with your menstrual cycle, such as a menstrual cycle that extends beyond what is expected, such as 35 days, or too short, as in the case of one that only lasts 21 or less days.
  • Frequently skipping periods, or never getting a period.
  • Having bad periods, with heavy bleeding and cramping each month.
  • While it's not a symptom, being over or under weight can affect ovulation negatively.

Medical history linked to infertility in women:

  • Endometriosis can affect your fallopian tubes or the lining of your uterus and cause problems getting pregnant.
  • A history of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • History of fibroids or polyps in the uterus.
  • Previous surgery involving the abdomen or pelvic area.
  • An abnormally shaped uterus may interfere with fertility.
  • Cervical abnormalities.

Symptoms of Infertility in Men

Many times men show no signs of a problem until they have trouble impregnating their partner after months of unprotected sex. However, there are some signals of possible problems including:

  • Other sexual functioning problems such as erectile dysfunction, or problems with ejaculation.
  • Growths, swelling or pain in or around the testicles.
  • Any signs of hormonal imbalance, such as a lack of facial or body hair.
  • History of varicocele, which is when veins in the testicles are enlarged, creating too much heat.

Health history that includes radiation exposure, exposure to toxins at work, mumps or kidney disease, or pattern of heavy alcohol use, drugs, smoking cigarettes or chemotherapy treatments.

What to Do if You Suspect a Problem

Should you have tried to get pregnant, and you have symptoms or a health history that leads you to believe you may have difficulty conceiving, don't feel that you need to delay seeing a doctor even if it's been less than the recommended time frame. Also, if you've had more than one miscarriage while trying to get pregnant, you should seek medical advice without waiting 6 months or a year.

Treatments for infertility range from having minor surgery, making lifestyle changes or taking medication. For some people an underlying condition or disease may be the culprit, and should that be the case, getting the disorder or disease under control may be the ticket to successful conception.

According to numbers from the CDC, of those couples who initially had trouble conceiving, approximately 20 percent went on to have a baby without any treatment. Of those who seek treatment for infertility, the success rate is 67 percent.

Related Articles

Unexplained Infertility

Secondary Infertility: Why it Happens

Coping With the Frustrations of Infertility


Fertility and Fibroids


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