What is the Infertility?
Infertility is defined as trying to get pregnant (with frequent intercourse) for at least a year with no success. Female infertility, male infertility or a combination of the two affects millions of couples in the United States. An estimated 10 to 18 percent of couples have trouble getting pregnant or having a successful delivery. Infertility results from female factors about one-third of the time and male factors about one-third of the time. The cause is either unknown or a combination of male and female factors in the remaining cases.
Female infertility causes can be difficult to diagnose. There are many available treatments, which will depend on the cause of infertility. Many infertile couples will go on to conceive a child without treatment. After trying to get pregnant for two years, about 95 percent of couples successfully conceive.
Common Signs of Infertility in Women
Infertility in women with signs and symptoms can be recognized. Some of these symptoms include:
Irregular periods: The average woman’s cycle is 28 days long. But anything within a few days of that can be considered normal, as long as those cycles are consistent. For example, a woman who has a 33-day cycle one month, a 31-day cycle the next, and a 35-day cycle after that, is probably having “normal” periods.
But a woman whose cycles vary so greatly that she can’t even begin to estimate when her period might arrive is experiencing irregular periods. This can be related to hormone issues, or to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Both of these can contribute to infertility.
Painful or heavy periods: Most women experience cramps with their periods. But painful periods that interfere with your daily life may be a symptom of endometriosis.
No periods: It’s not uncommon for women to have an off month here and there. Factors like stress or heavy workouts can cause your period to temporarily disappear. But if you haven’t had a period in months, it’s time to get your fertility checked.
Symptoms of hormone fluctuations: Signs of hormone fluctuations in women could indicate potential issues with fertility. Talk to your doctor if you experience the following:
- skin issues
- reduced sex drive
- facial hair growth
- thinning hair
- weight gain
Pain during sex: Some women have experienced painful sex their entire lives, so they’ve convinced themselves it’s normal. But it’s not. It could be related to hormone issues, to endometriosis, or to other underlying conditions that could also be contributing to infertility.
If you’re a woman thinking about getting pregnant soon or in the future, you may improve your chances of having normal fertility if you:
Maintain a normal weight. Overweight and underweight women are at increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you need to lose weight, exercise moderately. Strenuous, intense exercise of more than five hours a week has been associated with decreased ovulation.
Quit smoking. Tobacco has multiple negative effects on fertility, not to mention your general health and the health of a fetus. If you smoke and are considering pregnancy, quit now.
Avoid alcohol. Heavy alcohol use may lead to decreased fertility. And any alcohol use can affect the health of a developing fetus. If you’re planning to become pregnant, avoid alcohol, and don’t drink alcohol while you’re pregnant.
Reduce stress. Some studies have shown that couples experiencing psychological stress had poorer results with infertility treatment. If you can, find a way to reduce stress in your life before trying to become pregnant.