Exploring Signs of Infertility in Men and Women: An Overview
Posted on August 22nd, 2023
With infertility an ever-growing concern, it’s vital to recognize the signs of infertility signs as early as possible. Whether male or female, being aware of any symptoms can help you know when it’s time to seek out medical intervention from a fertility specialist. Doing so allows you to take steps toward improving your chances of having a child.
Infertility at a Glance
Infertility is roughly defined as the inability to have a natural pregnancy. Among heterosexual couples in the United States, it’s estimated that approximately 19% will be unable to achieve pregnancy after one year of trying.
Recognizing Female Infertility Signs
Female peak reproductive years generally occur between the late teens and late 20s. After the age of 30, female fertility begins to decline gradually at first, and then more quickly after the age of 35. By the age of 45, having a natural pregnancy is typically unlikely.
While in some cases of female infertility, there may be no obvious signs, in many cases, a female patient’s menstrual and ovulation cycles offer key insights into her fertility. For example, having irregular or absent periods often indicate an issue with ovulation. Some other signs of female infertility may include:
- Pain during sex
- Heavy, long, or painful periods
- Dark or pale menstrual blood
- Unexplained weight gain
- Severe acne
- Reduced sex drive
- Facial hair
- Thinning hair on the top of the head
Some of these symptoms, such as pain during sex, may be indicative of a condition known as endometriosis, in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. Other symptoms, such as acne and facial hair, can be signs of a hormonal condition or imbalance like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Endometriosis and PCOS are two of the most common causes of infertility in women.
Common Male Infertility Signs
Signs of infertility in men are typically very subtle or non-existent. In the vast majority of cases, male factor infertility can only be detected through a fertility evaluation and semen analysis.
While age doesn’t impact male fertility as much as it does for women, aging does still affect men’s ability to impregnate successfully. For example, men over the age of 40 are more likely to have lower testosterone levels, lower sperm counts, or defragmented DNA, all of which can impact male fertility. Other potential signs of male infertility include:
- Abnormal breast growth
- Reduced body and facial hair
- Erectile dysfunction
- Issues with ejaculating
- Testicular changes
- Varicocele – a painful condition involving enlarged testicular veins
Additional Infertility Factors
In addition to medical factors, infertility in both men and women can also be impacted by a variety of lifestyle factors, such as:
- Smoking tobacco or marijuana
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Drug use
- History of untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Poor diet
- Exposure to radiation or environmental toxins
When to See a Fertility Specialist
The timing of when to see a fertility specialist is different for everyone. As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that, if patients 35 years or older, regardless of gender, have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for at least 6 months, they should see a fertility specialist. If under the age of 35, patients should see a fertility specialist after one year of trying. However, if you have any of the signs above, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The earlier diagnosed, the sooner your fertility doctor can develop a treatment plan and help you achieve your family-building goals.
For advanced fertility care in Texas, including fertility testing and evaluation, contact Aspire Fertility.