Fertility is often a subject that takes a backseat during the initial reproductive period in a person’s life. After all, not many men and women are actively thinking about a baby when they are in their late teens or early 20s. However, pregnancy aside, fertility is a subject that needs to be discussed openly.
Often, the lack of awareness and open discussions surrounding female and male fertility lead to complications down the road. We are so less aware of the “warning signs” of infertility that by the time we do realize the dooming complications, it is possibly a little late.
This article will explore all the warning signs of infertility in men and women that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
In this Article
- 1 What is Infertility?
- 2 What are the Warning Signs of Infertility in Women?
- 3 What are the Warning Signs of Infertility in Men?
- 4 FAQs
- 5 Conclusion
What is Infertility?
The definition of infertility is quite confusing to many. In medical terms, a person (or a couple) is considered infertile if they are unable to conceive naturally after indulging in unprotected sexual intercourse for more than 12 months.
So, if you and your partner have been trying for over a year but are having trouble getting pregnant, that’s when you might need to consider consulting a fertility specialist for further evaluation.
What are the Warning Signs of Infertility in Women?
A woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes and transformations ever since puberty. From the first menstrual cycle to the ones that follow each month, a woman’s body goes through hormonal and physiological changes as it prepares itself for a potential pregnancy.
Following are some of the warning signs and symptoms of female infertility that an individual should be on the lookout for.
1. Not Having a Regular Menstrual Cycle
Skipping a period. Sounds common and nothing worth paying attention to, right? Well, that’s where you are wrong.
Lack of periods or the lack of a monthly menstrual cycle indicates that the woman isn’t ovulating. If there are issues with ovulation, it can eventually lead to complications related to conception and pregnancy.
There are several factors that could alter the regularity of a menstrual cycle. It could be due to the side effects of medications like birth control pills. It could be due to stress, or even due to underlying conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), etc.
If you don’t get your period for 3 months and more, it is ideal to consult a specialist for further evaluation. Getting proper treatment is crucial to a woman’s reproductive health and potential pregnancies in the future.
2. Bleeding between Periods
One of the most common reasons why you are bleeding between your periods is due to excess outgrowths like fibroids, uterine polyps, etc. If you are suddenly bleeding during sexual intercourse with your partner, it could be a sign of a cervical lesion.
All of these complications drastically affect the chances of a healthy conception and pregnancy in the future.
Sometimes, the worst thing that you could do for your body is take these symptoms for granted. Fibroids and polyps, if left untreated can lead to complications like severe cramping, excessive bleeding and even cancer in some cases.
3. Painful Periods
Everyone experiences cramping during their periods, right? It’s normal. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about experiencing pain during “those days of the month.”
Well, normal cramping and manageable pain are common symptoms of a regular and healthy menstrual cycle. But, severe “gut-wrenching” cramps aren’t.
If you experience unbearable pain during your periods, it could be a sign of endometriosis, which is a leading contributor to infertility in women. Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrial lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, leading to pain, hormonal imbalance and in severe cases, infertility.
4. Excessively Heavy Flow during Periods
How do you determine if you have a heavy bleeding flow during your periods? Well, let us make that easier for you.
Studies suggest that a woman loses between 30-40 ml of blood during a menstrual cycle. The same can go up to 60 ml as well. This, paired with the flow of blood without clots, is considered a healthy period.
However, if you have to change your pad or tampon every hour because it’s dripping wet, it is considered heavy flow. If your period lasts for over 7 days, it is considered a very heavy period. Also, if you notice a lot of blood clots in your period blood, it could be a sign of fibroids, so get that checked immediately.
5. Excess Hair Growth (Hirsutism)
Did you know that excess facial hair growth is a warning sign of hormonal imbalance in the body? Hirsutism is a condition that is triggered by excess androgen (male hormone) production in the body.
It is generally a sign of an undiagnosed condition of PCOS, which leads to excess production of androgens in the bloodstream. We’d highly recommend tracking the excessive hair growth on the face, back, arms and even the chest area.
If the condition gets worse with time, consider seeing a gynaecologist for further testing and a definitive diagnosis.
What are the Warning Signs of Infertility in Men?
When it comes to experiencing problems getting pregnant, research suggests that 40% of it is due to male factors. So, paying attention to the warning signs of infertility in men is equally important.
We have listed out some of the most common signs that are taken for granted.
1. Pain or Inflammation in the Testicles
Before you confuse things, let us clarify by saying that pain and swelling in the testicles aren’t always linked to infertility. In fact, it could be a sign of testicular torsion or an underlying infection.
However, if the pain and swelling recur every few months or don’t get better over time, it could be a warning sign that needs immediate medical intervention.
2. Lack of Sexual Desire
A man’s fertility is heavily dependent on the hormonal balance in their body. Not just the ability to ejaculate, a sudden reduction in sexual virility is considered a sign of infertility.
Ideally, you could be experiencing a drastic hormonal imbalance or reduced production of the male sex hormones in the body, which could later result in infertility.
Sometimes, the reduced libido could also be due to an underactive hypothalamus or pituitary glands. In such cases, you might need to seek immediate medical help to correct the shortcomings.
3. Erectile Dysfunction
One of the most potent signs of male infertility is erectile dysfunction. Around 25% of infertile males experience this issue.
The condition is marked by facing difficulty “getting and keeping” an erection during sexual intercourse. Although men are often discouraged to talk about the subject, it is time to break the taboo and have open conversations surrounding the same.
Clear discussions and awareness enable affected men to get the medical and emotional support that they need to overcome the complication.
Some of the other warning signs of male infertility include issues with ejaculation and or having small and firm testicles.
How often should I see a doctor for reproductive health?
Unless you are noticing complications with your reproductive health, getting an annual evaluation and check-up is considered ideal.
How do I test my fertility at home?
For a comprehensive result, we would recommend getting a fertility test in the diagnostic clinics. The at-home kits don’t provide conclusive results all the time.
How can I boost my fertility?
Ideally, if you are struggling with issues of infertility, some of the natural ways to boost it are by switching up your lifestyle and eating habits. Get professional help as well.
Detecting the early signs of infertility is just as important as noticing the warning signs of pregnancy. We need to be aware of factors that affect our reproductive health, irrespective of age, gender or sexual orientation. If you are experiencing any of the warning signs mentioned above, consult a doctor about the signs and get a definitive understanding of what’s wrong.