Most people don’t think much about their fertility until it is time to start actively planning for a family. Our bodies, however, can often give us warning signs that indicate you may have difficulty conceiving. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after actively trying for six months. But if you are a woman and have any of the following signs of infertility, you may be able to address it sooner.
What are the signs of infertility?
Sign #1: Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Irregular or absent menstrual cycles can suggest that you may have issues with ovulation. Ovulation typically occurs during the middle of a menstrual cycle when the ovaries release an egg to be fertilized. Irregular or absent periods can prevent this process from occurring naturally, resulting in difficulty getting pregnant.
Sign #2: Painful Menstrual Periods
Painful menstrual cycles with severe pain and cramping are often associated with conditions like endometriosis, which may impact fertility. Endometriosis is a condition that causes extra tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus to grow outside of the uterus.
The misplaced tissue can grow across various pelvic organs, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the outer surface of the uterus, and on the tissues that line the pelvic cavity. This excess growth of tissue can cause issues with ovulation and embryo implantation.
Sign #3: Sudden and Severe Acne
A sudden and severe onset of significant, deep acne can indicate potential hormonal imbalances often seen in diagnoses like polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a condition that affects hormone production and causes tiny benign cysts to grow on the ovaries. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including irregular or absent periods, weight gain, acne, increased hair growth on the face, and infertility. PCOS is a condition that your doctor can diagnose after a series of tests.
Sign #4: Abnormal Hair Growth
Another sign of infertility is abnormal hair growth which comes from PCOS. An abnormal amount of hair growth in places like the face, arms, chest, and back is a common symptom of PCOS. The excess hair growth seen with this condition is caused by increased testosterone production in the female body.
Sign #5: Sudden Weight Gain
It’s possible that a sudden increase in your weight could also be a sign of PCOS, raising a red flag for potential infertility. Women who have unexpected weight gain should be evaluated by their doctor to determine the cause and address any future fertility concerns.
Other Potential Factors that Can Affect Infertility
Infertility is a complicated subject and many more factors can contribute to challenges getting pregnant. Additional factors that affect female fertility include:
- A history of cancer and cancer treatments
- A history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Using tobacco products, including vaping
- Excessive alcohol use
- High levels of stress
- Being overweight or obese
It’s important to note that while the signs of infertility listed in this article are related to female infertility, conception difficulties are due to male infertility about half the time. The male partner should consult with a urologist while the female partner should seek help from an OB/GYN.
When You Should See A Doctor
Infertility can be a confusing and frustrating journey, but you do not have to go it alone. Your OB/GYN can provide you with the most up-to-date fertility treatment options to help you on your journey to motherhood.
If you have been struggling to get pregnant after having unprotected sex for over six months, it’s time to seek care with an experienced OB/GYN. Schedule an appointment today!