Fertility and the warning signs of infertility are often something people do not consider until they are actively trying to start a family, or in many cases after they have started having trouble conceiving. What many don’t realize is that 12% of women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Add in any number of infertility factors from either gender, and those chances can decrease significantly. 

Warning Signs Of Infertility

Women’s bodies are incredible and do a good job of providing warning signs that can help you recognize when it might be time to seek fertility treatment. If you think you may want to have children in the future, Carolinas Infertility Institute has put together 9 warning signs of infertility that you shouldn’t ignore.

For Women

1. Changes to Your Menstrual Cycle: This may be an absence of your period, heavier than normal flow, or irregular menstrual cycles may be signs of infertility. Consider tracking your menstrual cycle to help you identify patterns or changes early on. This will also be helpful in case you ever seek guidance from a physician, as he or she will inquire about your medical history.

2. Sudden, Severe Acne: Sudden skin changes, like severe acne breakouts as an adult, can be a major sign that something is going on with your hormones. It is also an early warning sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can lead to difficulty getting pregnant.

3. Painful Periods: We’re not talking about normal cramping here— but severe pain that stops you in your tracks and even causes nausea or vomiting. Alone this may not be one of the signs of infertility, but combined with other symptoms like pain during intercourse, blood in the urine or during bowel movements, or irregular periods, can be signs of endometriosis which is a condition that accounts for 20-40% of female infertility cases.

4. Significant Hair Growth (or Hair Loss): Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) causes small cysts to form on the outside of the ovaries, and it also causes the body to produce an excess of male hormones. If you notice hair growing in unusual places like your face, arms, chest, or back, this could be a warning sign. On the flip side, hair loss or thinning could be a sign of other infertility-related conditions like thyroid issues, anemia, or autoimmune disorders.

5. Sudden Unexplained Weight Gain: Another sign of PCOS is sudden unexplained weight gain when there have otherwise been no changes to your diet or level of activity. Keep in mind that it plays a significant role in fertility, even when a condition like PCOS is not present. Being overweight or underweight can both lead to difficulty conceiving.

For Men

6. Pain or Swelling of the Testicles: Common causes of testicular swelling may include testicular torsion, infection, or even a hernia. While pain or swelling in this region does not always correlate to one of the signs of infertility, it is always cause to seek medical attention from a physician.

7. Changes in Sex Drive: Extreme changes in sexual desire are a key indicator of hormonal problems. Improper function of a man’s hypothalamus or pituitary glands is a common cause of male factor infertility. Abuse of anabolic steroids or other supplements is also known to disrupt hormones, alter a sex drive and affect fertility.

8. Erectile Dysfunction: Also linked to hormonal imbalances, erectile dysfunction is present in nearly a quarter of couples who are struggling with infertility. This may be a result of an injury, a medical condition, the use of prescription medications or recreational drugs, or even psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, or stress.

For Both

Other warning signs that can affect both genders include past cancers or chronic illnesses, a history of a sexually transmitted disease or illness, poor lifestyle habits such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace.

At Carolinas Fertility Institute, we are dedicated to helping you build your family with personalized care and attention. We provide the latest and most technologically advanced treatment options for fertility. If you are struggling to get pregnant, we can work with you to devise a personalized treatment plan. For more information about the warning signs of infertility, call us at (336) 448-9100 to make an appointment in the Triad or (844) 686-2233 for our Charlotte office.