According to studies by the NIH, 15-20% of couples in the US experience infertility. It’s usually linked to a variety of factors, female factor, male factor, a combination, or unknown reasons. While the diagnosis of infertility is frustrating, today’s assisted reproductive technology offers hope.
The signs and symptoms experienced by some couples are most often related to an underlying condition. Untreated STDs often cause inflammation, for example. This leads to a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease and may cause scar tissue in the fallopian tubes preventing sperm from reaching the egg.
There are many conditions which interfere with conception and the symptoms might not be so obvious. Here we take a look at the most common symptoms of female factor and male factor infertility.
Common Symptoms of Infertility for Women
1. Irregular Menstrual Cycle: Most women have a cycle which runs 23-35 days with 28 days being the average. A cycle begins at the start of your period until the onset of the next period. Typically, mid-cycle ovulation occurs. Any irregularities in your cycle (less than 23 days or more than 35 days) may indicate an ovulatory issue due to a hormonal imbalance or possibly (polycystic ovarian syndrome) PCOS.
2. Heavy or Painful Periods: Most women experience cramps during their period but if your cramps send you to bed or interfere with your daily life every month, or have heavy periods this could indicate endometriosis. What is a heavy period? If you need to change your pad or tampon every two hours or pass large clots bigger than a quarter this is a heavy period.
3. No Period At All: Women who don’t have any period or have very light spotting in place of a period should have their fertility evaluated by a doctor. It’s not uncommon to miss a period here and there due to stress or even extreme athletic training. But consult your doctor if you’ve had no period for a few months in a row without pregnancy.
4. Painful Intercourse: Pain is never a good sign but if you experience pain during intercourse, it may indicate an underlying condition that affects your fertility such as a hormone imbalance, endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
5. Hormonal Imbalance: Your hormones are an integral part of fertility. Hormone fluctuations make conception difficult. Some of the signs, you may have fluctuating hormones. Weight gain, low libido (sex drive), skin breakouts, thinning hair and hair growing in places it shouldn’t on women (face, chest) could indicate a hormone issue.
Male Factor Infertility Symptoms
6. Low Libido: Just like female fertility male fertility runs on hormones. A drop in sexual desire often indicates a hormonal imbalance.
7. Erectile Dysfunction: Sometimes, daily stressors, like work or family relationships, make it difficult to relax and achieving or maintaining an erection is difficult. It happens sometimes and it’s usually not a big deal. However, if you find it impossible to become erect or maintain an erection, the culprit may be a hormonal imbalance. See your doctor.
8. Inability to Ejaculate: Obviously ejaculation is central to natural conception. There are a few different reasons for an inability to ejaculate. Certain medication or health conditions interfere with ejaculation. So does substance abuse (alcohol or drugs) and surgery, anxiety and depression all contribute to ejaculatory dysfunction. If you are unable to ejaculate, reach out to your doctor for an evaluation.
9. Painful or Swollen Testicles: Pain in the testicles or obvious swelling is not normal and warrants a trip to the doctor pronto! Your testes house your sperm and any issues may disrupt your fertility. Ongoing pain is never normal. Such pain often indicates a condition such as testicular torsion (a twisted testicle) inflammation of the tube that runs along the back of your testicles, a varicocele (enlarged vein within your testicle or a hydrocele which is a fluid filled sack within your testicle. Swollen and painful testicles may even be a sign of testicular cancer. Please see your doctor.
10. Small and Firm Testicles: Testicles that are hard or smaller than average need an evaluation by a doctor. Again, your testes store your sperm and healthy testicles are firm but not hard and smooth without lumps or bumps. Small, or hard testicles may indicate a chromosomal or congenital abnormality or an acquired condition and impact your fertility. If your testicles are hard or appear small consult your physician.
Don’t Despair! We’re Here to Help
More often than not the first symptom of infertility is the inability to conceive. If you’ve tried without success for one year (six months if you’re over 35) it’s time for a fertility evaluation. The team at LA IVF is happy to help you get to the bottom of your inability to conceive. Contact LA IVF for a consultation today.