Are You Having Trouble Getting Pregnant?

Pregnancy can be a fickle thing. Some women get pregnant without much trouble. Others can go for several months without success. For some who struggle with pregnancy, there could be some signs that the issue is infertility. Over 9% of women in the United States are infertile, defined as not getting pregnant after having unprotected sex for 12 months or more. Female infertility could be a confusing, stressful situation if unidentified.

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Causes of female infertility

So what’s behind infertility? The reproductive process is quite delicate, and several factors can cause female infertility. Age is the most critical factor in infertility. A woman’s ovarian reserve, or the number of high-quality eggs produced by the ovaries, declines with age. Women over 40 are more likely to be infertile. Genetics and hormones also play critical roles, as both can determine the success of a pregnancy. There could also be underlying conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or ovarian failure. Even lifestyle conditions like excess weight, smoking, and alcohol are a factor. These 6 signs can help women tell if there is a fertility problem.

1. Irregular periods

Irregular periods occur when the period does not happen as expected. A women’s average period should be 28 days. With irregular periods, some women are unable to determine when the next period should happen. In other cases, periods can either painful, heavy, or may not happen at all. Irregular periods are often a sign of a reproductive issue. Tracking the menstrual cycle can help determine if there is a need to visit a doctor.

2. Are you breaking out?

Acne occurs when hair follicles become clogged with excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, or oil. Sudden acne breakouts or rapid skin changes can be a sign of infertility. Breakouts could mean there is a hormonal imbalance. Excess male hormones called androgens cause an overproduction of oil on the skin. These androgens can also lead to poor ovulation and infertility. Signs of hormonal acne are breakouts along the jawline, chest, and back.

3. Check your hair

The hair growth or loss a woman experiences can be a sign of infertility. Similar to acne, hair growth happens with excess male hormones. The hair appears on the neck, chin, back, or chest. Hair loss can also be a sign of hormonal complications. These complications are thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases, and anemia.

4. Unexplained weight gain

A woman may not notice the slight hormonal changes happening in the body. Sometimes, the acne, hair, and irregular periods could be minor changes. But a big sign could be unexplained weight gain. If there is no change to diet or exercise, but there is an increase in weight, the reason could be polycystic ovary syndrome. Cysts on the ovaries could prevent egg production, and the hormonal changes cause weight gain. Excess weight can also make pregnancy difficult.

5. Pain during sex

Pain during sex can be a sign of an undetected condition. The pain experienced can be due to hormonal disorders such as endometriosis. Fibroids can also be the reason for this pain which can contribute to infertility in women. Make sure to seek advice from an OB/GYN. The best step would be to treat fibroids or endometriosis to increase fertility.

6. Dark or pale menstrual blood

Dark or pale menstrual blood can also be a sign of female infertility. If the blood is pale, this can be a reason for concern. Menstrual blood should be bright red and darken over the period cycle. A woman passing dark blood at the beginning of the period cycle can be a sign of endometriosis.

All is not lost

In many cases, female infertility is treatable if identified early. Visiting an OB/GYN or reproductive endocrinologist can give many women an advantage to get pregnant. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes to improve weight and balance hormones can increase fertility. If there is an underlying medical condition, the doctor can recommend different treatments to help. A laparoscopy hysteroscopy can help remove cysts, fibroids or treat conditions like endometriosis. If these fail, there are assisted reproductive technologies like intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Infertility is not the end. Look for the signs and take action today.

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