Infertility is a sensitive problem that has often been used to blame or make someone feel ashamed. Often women have been labeled as infertile as a punishment for some imagined wrong when this is scientifically untrue and often it is the man who has the medical problem. Infertility is a medical problem and must be seen as such if we are to have any understanding of the subject or any chance of improving the situation.
Infertility is when you cannot get pregnant after having unprotected, regular sex for six months to one year, depending on your age.
The main symptom of infertility is not getting pregnant. You may not have or notice any other symptoms.
Symptoms can also depend on what is causing the infertility. Many health conditions can make it hard to get pregnant. Sometimes no cause is found.
Infertility Symptoms in Women
In women, changes in the menstrual cycle and ovulation may be a symptom of a disease related to infertility. Symptoms include:
• Abnormal periods. Bleeding is heavier or lighter than usual.
• Irregular periods. The number of days in between each period varies each month.
• No periods. You have never had a period, or periods suddenly stop.
• Painful periods. Back pain, pelvic pain, and cramping may happen.
Sometimes, female infertility is related to a hormone problem. In this case, symptoms can also include:
• Skin changes, including more acne
• Changes in sex drive and desire
• Dark hair growth on the lips, chest, and chin
• Loss of hair or thinning hair
• Weight gain
Other symptoms of disorders that may lead to infertility include:
• Milky white discharge from nipples unrelated to breastfeeding
• Pain during sex
Infertility Symptoms in Men
Infertility symptoms in men can be vague. They may go unnoticed until a man tries to have a baby.
Symptoms depend on what is causing the infertility. They can include:
• Changes in hair growth
• Changes in sexual desire
• Pain, lump, or swelling in the testicles
• Problems with erections and ejaculation
• Small, firm testicles
When to See the Doctor
If you are under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant without success for a year, see your doctor. Women 35 and older should see their doctor after six months of trying.
Blood, urine, and imaging tests can be done to discover why you are having trouble getting pregnant. A sperm analysis can be done to check a man’s sperm count and the overall health of the sperm.
Your doctor may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist. That’s a doctor who specializes in infertility. You will be asked questions about your infertility symptoms and medical history.