Infertility Signs to Look For in Women and Men

Apr 25 • 2016

If you and your partner are struggling to get pregnant, it can be extremely stressful. For couples who have been having regular, unprotected sex for six months to a year without getting pregnant, infertility may the issue. There are many misconceptions about infertility, including who it can impact and what causes it, so it’s important to know the facts.

One of the most common myths about infertility is that it is only a female problem. However, men and women make up an equal amount of infertility cases. Because of this, it’s important that both you and your partner are evaluated by a doctor if there has been difficulty conceiving.

Signs of Infertility
For women, signs of infertility include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Abnormal periods
  • No periods at all
  • Especially painful back pain, pelvic pain, and cramping during periods
  • Changes in libido (desire for sexual activity)
  • Changes to skin, like acne
  • Loss or thinning of hair
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Hair growth on the chest, chin, and lips
  • Pain during intercourse
  • A milky, white discharge from the nipples that is not correlated with breastfeeding

When it comes to infertility in men, the signs are much less noticeable. Many men don’t realize they are infertile until their partner has trouble conceiving. Some things to look out for include:

• Changes in libido
• Swelling, discomfort, or bulges in the testicles
• Firmness in the testicles
• Difficulty getting an erection or ejaculating
• Noticeable changes in hair growth

Causes of Infertility
Men and women can experience infertility due to a variety of causes. For women, there are three main organs that need to be working properly in order to get pregnant. These are the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Anything that impacts one of more of these organs can increase the chance of infertility, including blocked or swollen tubes, ovarian age, lack of ovulation, and abnormalities of the uterus.

There are some things that can increase a woman’s risk of infertility:

  • Aging
  • Severe stress that causes a lack of menstruation
  • Dangerous levels of weight gain or weight loss
  • Tobacco use
  • Extreme alcohol consumption

For men, doctors will take a look at the movement, concentration, and shape of sperm in the semen to determine what might be causing the issue. Some common contributions to low sperm count and infertility include:

  • Varicoceles: when a man’s testicles overheat because they are large
  • Exposure to lead or pesticides
  • Lifestyle habits like smoking, use of steroids, hefty alcohol consumption, testosterone supplements, and drug use
  • Other medical issues like testicular failure, diabetes, or cystic fibrosis
  • Previous chemotherapy or radiation treatment

The most important thing to remember is that infertility is a medical condition, not a sign that you and your partner are doing something wrong or failing at conception because of something personal. If you’re struggling to get pregnant, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor to see what options are available to you and your partner.

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