Infertility Affects Millions Every Year
Millions of couples are affected by infertility. In the United States, an estimated 10-18% of couples have tried to get pregnant for a year or longer without success. Understanding the possible signs and symptoms of infertility can help in diagnosing the root cause of a couple’s infertility. Here are 4 common signs of infertility to consider.
#1: Can you predict your periods?
For women, any changes or abnormalities in menstrual cycles can be a sign of infertility. This can range from having no period at all to having extremely heavy, painful periods. The average woman gets a period about every 28 days. Some women, however, will have periods that are inconsistent and vary in length. If a woman experiences periods that are so irregular as to not even be vaguely predictable, that woman should talk with a healthcare provider about possible causes and treatments.
While problems with periods alone do not mean that a woman is infertile, irregular periods often point to underlying health conditions that do cause infertility. Infections, fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease can all affect a woman’s fertility.
#2: Are you having trouble with your skin?
Having acne alone doesn’t mean a woman is infertile. But hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause women to break out, gain weight, or experience abnormal hair growth. All of these symptoms can point to PCOS, which causes infertility. In fact, PCOS is the number one cause of female infertility.
Because PCOS is a hormonal imbalance, women with PCOS don’t ovulate normally. About 25% of infertility is due to problems with ovulation. Ovulation problems can occur because of PCOS, but ovulation problems also can be due to issues with the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland regulates hormone production.
#3: Infertility takes two
Infertility is not always because of the female partner. In up to one-third of infertile couples, male infertility is a factor. Common signs of infertility in men can include issues with maintaining erection and an inability to ejaculate. Additionally, changes in sexual desire often point to a hormonal imbalance in men, which also leads to infertility. Because men don’t often experience severe signs and symptoms of infertility, many men are unaware of infertility until trying to conceive.
#4: Sex should not be painful
Pain during sex doesn’t automatically point to infertility, but it can point to underlying conditions that cause infertility. For example, women who have endometriosis experience severe pelvic pain, especially during menstruation or during sex. Endometriosis is closely linked to infertility. In fact, many women go undiagnosed for endometriosis until being treated for infertility.
Infertility is not one-size-fits-all
Infertility is not a one-size-fits-all issue. There are a variety of reasons that both men and women can experience infertility. If a couple has been trying to conceive without success for over 6 months, it may be time to consult with a healthcare provider to seek infertility treatment.