Infertility signs and symptoms in men and women
When looking for signs or symptoms of infertility, it is important to realise that in most couples’ cases, there are no symptoms or signs or indications other than not being pregnant yet, says Dr Antonio Rodrigues from Medfem Fertility Clinic in a recent video, which you can watch here.
In this article, we find out that while there are no tell-tale signs of infertility, there are a few possible signs or symptoms or indicators in men and in women, and that there is a way to find out for certain why you are not pregnant yet and what treatment is best for you.
There are no tell-tale or obvious signs of infertility, other than not having conceived despite trying for some time.
The official definition of infertility is that you have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for at least one year (or at least six months if you are older than 35).
Fortunately, infertility does not mean you are unable to have children ever. It means that you have a medical condition and that you will likely require medical assistance or treatment to conceive. It’s just a matter of finding out what treatment or assistance you require to have a child.
There could be a multitude of causes for infertility. In around a third of cases, the cause is due to a female factor, and similarly, also in around a third of cases, the cause is due to a male factor. In the remaining third of cases, the cause is both male and female factors. In fact, in as many as 25% of couples facing infertility, there is more than one factor contributing to infertility. Fortunately, there is also a range of medical treatments available that are used with great success.
So, let’s look at some possible signs, symptoms or indicators both in women and in men, since the infertility may be a factor of either partner, or of both.
Possible signs and symptoms of infertility in women
In women, possible signs and symptoms of infertility may include the following:
* pain during sex,
* heavy, long or painful periods,
* dark or pale menstrual blood,
* irregular cycles,
* hormonal changes,
* underlying medical conditions, and
A diagnosis of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, as well as a history of pelvic infection disease (PID) or sexually transmitted diseases could also be warning signs.
PCOS is an ovulation disorder associated with elevated male hormones (androgens) and/or polycystic appearing ovaries. Roughly 30% of women with infertility problems have endometriosis, which occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows on other parts of the body. PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs, often without any signs or symptoms. Sexually transmitted diseases that are known to affect fertility include for example certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted virus that is the main cause of cervical cancer.
Other possible indicators of female infertility could include a BMI of more than 30, as well as poor lifestyle choices such as excessive stress, smoking, alcohol use and illicit drug abuse. Women who have had or are going to have cancer treatment are also at risk of infertility.
Possible signs and symptoms of infertility in men
Almost all causes of male infertility are usually related to sperm disorders – either too few in number or of inadequate quality. However, a sperm disorder cannot be detected with the naked eye because erections, intercourse and ejaculation will usually happen normally and the quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally appears normal.
In men, signs and symptoms are rare, but may include the following:
* problems with sexual function,
* pain, swelling or lumps in the testicle area,
* inability to smell,
* abnormal breast growth,
* a decrease in facial or body hair,
* other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality, and
* a lower than normal sperm count.
Other indicators include previous sexually transmitted diseases, testicular surgery or trauma, and a history of mumps during teenage years. Men who have had or are going to have cancer treatment are also at risk of infertility.
Possible red flags also include lifestyle choices such as the use of anabolic steroids or gym supplements, a BMI of more than 30, and excessive smoking, alcohol use and illicit drug abuse.
Don’t delay treatment!
It is really important to realise that looking for signs or symptoms is not necessary. The reality is that most couples who visit us at Medfem Fertility Clinic have no signs or symptoms in either the male partner or the female partner.
If you have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for a year (or six months if you are older than 35), you should not delay a consultation with a fertility specialist. In addition, there are a number of other instances in which you should speak to a fertility specialist as a matter of priority.
Immediate evaluation and treatment of infertility is particularly important where the couple has known conditions such as anovulation, blocked fallopian tubes or severe male factor infertility. Anovulation refers to having irregular or no periods, and is a cause of infertility in approximately 30% of female patients. Thin and delicate, fallopian tubes can be damaged and blocked due to a variety of reasons, preventing the sperm from finding and fertilising the egg. Severe male factor infertility refers to a condition in which there is no sperm in the semen.
It is also important to seek proactive evaluation and treatment for women who are 40 years of age and older, because of the increased potential for significant loss of ovarian reserve in this age group. After peaking in a woman’s late 20s, her fertility begins to decline gradually and then more markedly in their early 30s. After 35, this decline is more rapid and after the age of 40, it falls sharply. After the age of 45, achieving a pregnancy naturally is very difficult.
However, at Medfem Fertlity Clinic, we believe that anyone that has reason to be concerned about their fertility should take immediate steps to have their situation assessed. It is the only way to find out for certain why you are not pregnant yet and what treatment is best for you as a couple.
The first step is simply to set up an initial consultation with one of our fertility specialists. They will help you to discover the cause of your infertility, and which of the many treatments, options and solutions available to couples with infertility is best for you.
Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team are committed and understanding team of medical professionals, who have the experience, knowledge and desire to provide you with the best chance of a successful outcome at the end of your treatment.
Since the 1980’s, Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team has assisted couples struggling with infertility to experience the joy of parenthood, helping to bring more than 18,000 babies into the world.
If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
We look forward to meeting you!