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What are some of the early indications of infertility?


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Infertility is becoming more predominant affecting both men and women all around the world at a very young age. Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant even after repeated trying for more than a year, diagnosing the exact cause of infertility can pave the way for a comprehensive treatment possibility. 

The causes of fertility problems in women can be attributed to ovulation disorders, fallopian tube damage or blockage, endometriosis, uterine or cervical deformities, and many more. And in men, the sperm fertility factor is the leading cause of male infertility. Detection and treatment are only possible when the symptoms are monitored regularly. And it goes without mentioning that the earlier the detection, the sooner it can be cured.

Treatment options include hormonal therapies and surgical corrections to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). This article covers some prominent early infertility indicators that should not be ignored and must be treated at the earliest.

Early indications of Infertility in Women

Changes in periods and blood flow during periods

While some women have mild blood flow with slight pain or discomfort, others can have heavy periods with extreme stomach cramps. Heavy, painful, and extended periods indicate issues like fibroids (non-cancerous growths of the uterus) and endometriosis (where the uterine lining outgrows the uterus walls). 

A clinical and surgical review shows that nearly 25 to 50% of infertile women have endometriosis and 30 to 50% of women with endometriosis are infertile. Other endometriosis symptoms include: 

  • Irregular periods, 
  • Bleeding between periods, 
  • Severe pelvic pain even when not menstruating, 
  • Painful bowel movements, 
  • Pain during sex, 
  • Back pain, 
  • Nausea, and 
  • Fatigue.  

Irregular menstrual cycles

Menstrual cycle irregularity includes:

  • Missed periods, 
  • Delayed periods (after 35 days of your last menstruation commencement date), 
  • Early periods (before 20 days of the first day of your last menses).

Irregular periods, if happening regularly, can indicate ovulation irregularities. Irregular ovulation is caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), overweight or underweight, and thyroid problems. According to the Office on Women’s Health, irregular ovulation, PCOS, is the prime cause of infertility in women, affecting 1 in 10 women.  

Hormonal Indicators

Imbalance or fluctuations in hormones lead to noticeable symptoms, such as acne, cold feet and hands, growth of facial hair, hair thinning, extreme hair loss, mood changes, nipple discharge, low sex drive, weight gain, and more. 

Since a woman’s reproductive system is mainly hormone-driven, hormonal imbalance can disrupt egg development and ovulation process, causing PCOS, hyperprolactinemia, and anovulation (no or delayed ovulation). These conditions eventually lead to fertility problems in females. Hormone tests can help detect hormone problems, and hormonal medications or therapies can help balance hormones. 

Menstrual blood colour

Menstrual blood colour can range from blackish brown to pale pink, orange, or grey. It is normal for the colour of the menstrual blood to change throughout the menstruation period and between two periods. 

However, if your menstrual blood is continuously pale pink, it may mean that the menstrual blood is mixing with the cervical fluid, indicating hormonal imbalance or infection. 

Grey menstrual blood is also a red flag for possible bacterial infection. Infections caused by harmful bacteria or sexually transmitted diseases (STD) causing bacteria if not treated, can lead to fertility issues. 

Being Overweight or Obese

Having a healthy weight is one of the essential aspects when it comes to reproductive health. Studies have shown that women having overweight or obesity issues have fewer chances of getting pregnant and are more prone to pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, miscarriages, foetal congenital deformities, IVF failures, and stillbirth.  

Other Medical Conditions

Other medical conditions like early menopause, cancer, cancer treatments- chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, structural deformities of the uterus, PCOS, and endometriosis, can cause fertility issues in women. Getting an early diagnosis is essential to treat these conditions and improve fertility and pregnancy chances. 

Early Signs of Infertility in Men

It is true that men also have fertility issues. Men contribute equally to conception. Sperm fertility factors- abnormal sperm morphology, poor motile sperm, or low sperm count can lead to infertility in men. However, there are methods like surgical sperm aspiration, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), and others to counter these fertility problems in men. 

Some of the early male infertility indications include:

  • Ejaculation difficulties- small volumes of fluid ejaculation,
  • Erectile dysfunction,
  • Reduced sex drive,
  • Pain, swelling, or lump in the testicular region caused due to dilated veins around the testicular area, 
  • Gynecomastia (irregular breast growth)
  • Hormonal issues, which most commonly present as decreased body and facial hair,
  • Being obese,
  • Undescended testicles- failure of the testicles to descend from the abdomen into the scrotal sacs. 


To better understand your condition and adopt the best treatment plan, your doctor will suggest some diagnostic investigations- hysterosalpingography, endometrial biopsy, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, and hormone analysis for women, while sperm analysis, urine analysis, testicular biopsy, and blood tests for men. 

A detailed diagnosis can aid in devising a suitable treatment plan. Treatment options include surgeries to correct or repair blockage of ducts/ tubes, and removal of ovarian cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis. Assisted reproduction techniques include IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in-vitro fertilisation), ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), GIFT (gamete intrafallopian tube transfer), and ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer), gamete or embryo donation.

You must consult a gynaecologist without further delay if you are not able to get pregnant and have one or more symptoms mentioned above, indicating infertility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the early signs of infertility in females?

In females, irregular periods, heavy and painful periods, no periods, and abnormal periods are the first indications of health conditions that cause impaired fertility. 

Do light periods mean infertility?

Light periods occurring regularly indicate that the uterine lining is not thick enough. A thick uterine lining or endometrium can support a healthy pregnancy. But if the uterine lining is thin, the embryo can struggle to get implanted and develop. And cannot favour the best pregnancy possibility. 

How can one reduce the risk of infertility?

One can prevent or reduce infertility risk by the following means:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight, 
  • Moderately exercising regularly,
  • Quit smoking,
  • Tracking of periods regularly, 
  • Eating healthy, nutritious foods,
  • Avoiding junk and oily foods,
  • Having a regular health check. 
Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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