10 Potential Signs of Infertility You Shouldn’t Ignore
Published on 01/23/22
Infertility Symptoms To Look Out For
Having a family is a dream almost all women have. However, not all of them see that dream come true, one of the main reasons is being infertile. Fertility is a topic a lot of people do not talk about until they are actively trying to get a child.
When you are below 35 years, doctors recommend that you try conceiving for about a year before seeking medical solutions. A lot of infertility problems are connected to underlying issues like:
Doctors have found that 1 in every 4 infertility problems are a result of ovulation disorders. That means that there is no ovulation, or it happens infrequently. Some of the disorders include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – This results in hormonal imbalance that affects ovulation.
- Hypothalamic dysfunction- Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone are two hormones responsible for ovulation in every cycle. Their production could result from drastic weight changes, excess emotional or physical stress, or having very low or high body weight.
- Premature ovarian failure- Also known as primary ovarian insufficiency, this disorder means that the ovary does not produce eggs anymore, causing a drop in estrogen levels. It results from premature egg loss from the ovary or an autoimmune disorder.
- Too much prolactin- There could be the production of excess prolactin, which results in low estrogen production.
Damaged fallopian tubes
A blocked or damaged fallopian tube prevents the sperm and egg from meeting and fertilizing. It could also keep the fertilized egg from getting to the uterus. It might result from pelvic tuberculosis, previous surgery in the pelvis or abdomen, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
This is a disease where tissues that normally grow in the uterus grow in other locations. The extra growth or its removal surgically could result in scarring, which might block your fallopian tube and prevent the egg and sperm from fertilizing.
It could also affect the uterus lining, which affects the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Cervical or uterine causes
Some cervical or uterine issues could increase the chances of a miscarriage or interfere with the implantation process.
They include uterine abnormalities from birth, benign tumors or polyps in the uterus, cervical stenosis or narrowing of the cervix, and inability of the cervix to produce the mucus for sperm to travel in.
Some of the risk factors that could increase your chances of infertility include being over 30 years old, obesity, smoking, a history of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, and excess alcohol consumption.
Signs of Infertility
While the signs of infertility could differ depending on the cause, some of the symptoms women should not ignore include:
This is one of the most common and alarming symptoms of infertility. An average cycle lasts between 21-35 days. However, the length varies from woman to woman, and they are considered normal so long as that length is consistent in all cycles.
Having periods for the same number of days in every cycle is also considered as having a regular cycle. However, if you cannot tell when your period will come next or how long it will last, that is considered as having irregular periods.
The most common causes of irregular periods are hormonal imbalance and PCOS. Other causes include thyroid dysfunction, excessive exercise, or being underweight or overweight.
Heavy or painful periods
A lot of women experience cramps during their periods. However, cramps should not keep you from doing your daily activities.
Severe cramping could also cause nausea or vomiting. In addition, severe cramping during periods could be a sign of endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Normal menstrual bleeding lasts anywhere between 3 and 7 days. However, if you bleed over seven days, that could be a sign of an underlying issue.
If you notice that you use more than one pad or tampon in an hour or pass clots bigger than a quarter, it is also a cause for concern. That could be a sign of fibroids.
Sometimes going a month without getting your period could be normal, and it might result from stress or excessive workout. You could also go for some time without getting your period if you were using birth control.
However, not getting your period for more than three months is a cause for concern. Not receiving any periods is a sign that you are not ovulating, which means there are low chances of conceiving without any assistance.
Bleeding between periods
It is normal to spot a day or two before you get your period. However, bleeding weeks before your period or after sexual intercourse could indicate fibroids, a uterine polyp, or cervical lesions. That could be a sign of ovarian aging, ovulatory dysfunction, or endometrial or uterine dysfunction.
Hormonal changes could happen because of different reasons, and they could differ from person to person. However, it might affect your chances of conceiving because hormones play a very major role in all the processes from ovulation, creation of the uterine wall, and implantation.
Some of the symptoms of hormonal changes include:
- Severe acne
- Cold hands and feet
- Nipple discharge
- Thinning hair
- Unexplained severe weight gain
- Reduced sex drive
- Facial hair
Pain during sex
Some people experience pain during penetrative sexual intercourse, and some might think it’s normal. You might also think that it is a sign of vaginal infection, which is also a possibility. However, if you experience it all the time, it could be a sign of endometriosis or fibroids.
Sudden hair loss or growth
If you notice that you are getting an increase in hair growth, especially in unusual areas, it could be a sign of hormonal imbalance PCOS.
PCOS not only causes the growth of small cysts on the ovaries outside, but also makes the body produce a lot of male hormones that could result in hair growth. Some of the areas you might notice hair growth include your hands, chest, face, and back.
Thinning hair could result from infertility-related issues like anemia, thyroid issues, and autoimmune disorders.
Sudden and unexplained weight gain
If you notice that you are suddenly putting on a lot of weight without trying or making dietary changes, it could be an alarming issue.
This could be an early and warning sign of PCOS. Being overweight even without PCO causes a lot of difficulties when it comes to conceiving and also increases the chances of getting pregnancy complications.
While pelvic pain is not always a sign of infertility, you should get checked out because it could be a sign of some of the issues that cause infertility.
Dark or pale menstrual blood
You must monitor the color of your menstrual blood throughout every cycle because it could indicate some underlying issues. Menstrual blood should be bright red during the first days of the cycle and get darker towards the end.
Different blood colors indicate different things; for example, pinkish blood could indicate pregnancy. However, if you notice that your blood is paler or darker than usual throughout the whole cycle, it could be a sign of issues that could cause infertility.
If you notice that you are passing dark blood at the beginning of your cycle, similar to the old blood that you pass towards the end of your cycle, that could be a sign of endometriosis, one of the leading causes of infertility.
Can You Get Pregnant With PCOS?
As we discussed earlier, PCOS is an ovarian complication that causes hormonal imbalance that affects ovulation. However, it is a curable disease, and many women wonder if they can get pregnant after being diagnosed with the disease.
Experts state that having PCOS is not a guarantee that you will not get pregnant, but it is just harder, and you might require extra help from the doctors. Some of the things you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant if you have PCOS include:
Maintaining a healthy weight
Experts mainly link being overweight with PCOS, but some women with the disease are not overweight. However, if you have the disease and have extra weight, you can increase your chances of getting pregnant by losing 5% of the weight.
To determine if you are overweight, you should get your BMI checked by your doctor and discuss some of the safest methods for you to lose weight.
If you are trying to get pregnant, you need to have the right nutrients in your body in the right amounts. Therefore, you need to switch to a healthy diet. Cut off unhealthy fats and sugars from your diet and include healthy meals like:
- Fresh raw or cooked vegetables and fruits
- Proteins from sources like fish, poultry, and legumes
- Whole grains like barley and brown rice
You should also ask your doctor about getting the best supplements for some minerals and vitamins important during pregnancy like
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin D
PCOS makes your body produce a lot of both estrogen and testosterone, which might make it difficult to conceive. Some of the medications your doctor can recommend include:
- Birth control pills
- Metformin, which balances insulin levels
- Fertility medications to promote more egg production
- Clomiphene, which balances estrogen levels