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Home > Learn > FYI > >Wondering if You Can Get Pregnant? 10 Signs of Infertility to Look Out For

Wondering if You Can Get Pregnant? 10 Signs of Infertility to Look Out For

Jun 08, 23 7 min

By OBGYN Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

If you find yourself worrying about your fertility, know that you aren’t alone. Many people are concerned about their ability to conceive. Whether you’re actively trying to get pregnant in the coming months or you’re planning your future a few years in advance, fertility can be a difficult and stressful topic. Let’s talk about the specific symptoms you can be on the lookout for if you’re concerned about your fertility. 

What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after having unprotected heterosexual sex for a specific amount of time. [1] Infertility can stem from problems with either male or female reproductive systems and is influenced by a large number of factors. Learn how infertility is diagnosed. 

How to improve fertility

First, let’s talk about all the steps you can take to support your fertility. Taking care of your overall health is always a good first step. This means eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and avoiding heavy use of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. [2] Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for reducing your risk of many chronic diseases and infertility. [2] Research suggests that some vitamins and minerals may help improve fertility parameters, including egg health, ovarian health, sexual function, and sperm health. [3-5] Potentially beneficial fertility supplements include CoQ10, prenatal vitamins, Vitamin D3, and others. 

Natalist call to action featuring woman picking up gummy fertility vitamins

Symptoms of infertility

While many factors that impact fertility will not show physical symptoms, there are some signs that may indicate a problem with hormone balance, sexual function, and fertility. [1-2] This is not an exhaustive list, and many of these symptoms may be present even if someone doesn’t have a problem with fertility. You should always speak to a healthcare provider directly if you’re concerned about your health or ability to conceive. 

Signs of infertility in females

1. Irregular menstrual cycles

If you’ve always had irregular menstrual cycles or if you’ve noticed changes to your menstrual cycle recently, you may have a difficult time getting pregnant. [6] Irregular menstrual cycles may be a sign of underlying conditions, abnormal hormonal levels, and more. [6] An irregular menstrual cycle may include the absence of a period, changes to blood flow or volume, delayed or early menstruation, and so on.

2. Weight

Being severely underweight or overweight may contribute to infertility and other conditions. [1-2] If you’ve recently had a severe weight transformation leaving you in either extreme, you may want to speak to a healthcare provider about your family planning goals. Staying near a healthy weight range may be beneficial for fertility and reducing the risk of many chronic conditions. [7] 

3. Recurrent miscarriage

If you have experienced multiple miscarriages, there may be an underlying cause that is impacting your ability to conceive and carry to term. It should be noted that miscarriages themselves are not uncommon and are seen in nearly 20% of pregnancies, but experiencing two or more miscarriages in a row should prompt you to speak to your healthcare provider. [8-9] 

4. Untreated STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and others, can cause severe damage to the reproductive tract if left untreated. [2,6] A condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by untreated infections and can lead to infertility. Symptoms of an infection include pain while urinating and abnormal discharge. Not all people with an STI will experience symptoms, which is why STI testing is so important. 

5. Pelvic or abdominal pain

    Experiencing pain in the abdomen or pelvis could be caused by a number of things, including a normal menstrual cycle. However, frequent or debilitating pain may be a sign of endometriosis or another underlying condition. [2,6] While it’s still possible to get pregnant with conditions such as endometriosis, it may be more difficult. 

    6. Significant changes to skin, hair growth, or hair loss

      High levels of male hormones may indicate a problem with fertility and often cause acne or male-pattern hair growth. People with high levels of male hormones may grow hair on the face, chest, thighs, and other parts of the body. [2,6] Significant hair loss could also be a sign of a thyroid condition, anemia, or other condition potentially impacting fertility. 

      Signs of infertility in males

      1. Untreated STIs

        Similarly to females, untreated sexually transmitted infections may lead to fertility problems. STIs can cause inflammation and scarring in the body, potentially damaging parts of the reproductive tract and decreasing the likelihood of healthy sperm traveling outside of the body. [2,6] Symptoms of an infection include discharge and a burning sensation when peeing. 

        2. Pain, swelling, or lumps around the testes

          Feeling any pain or swelling in the testes or noticing a mass or lump around the testes could be a sign of infection, cancerous or noncancerous growths, and more. [6,10] Untreated STIs may also lead to pain or swelling in one or both testicles. 

          3. Decreased hair growth

            Decreased hair growth on the face or body may be a sign of a hormonal abnormality. Reduced levels of hormones such as testosterone may negatively impact fertility. [10] 

            4. Sexual dysfunction

              Difficulty ejaculating, difficulty getting an erection, reduced sexual desire, or small volumes of semen may all point to an issue with fertility. [10] 

              Shop Fertility Tests 

              When to be concerned about your fertility

              Not all factors that impact fertility will cause physical symptoms. There are other lifestyle and demographic factors that may play a role in reproductive health. The general rule of thumb for heterosexual couples under the age of 35 is to try to conceive (have unprotected sex) for a year before talking to a specialist or OBGYN. [1] For those over the age of 35, seeking out a specialist or OBGYN may be recommended after having unprotected sex for six months. [1] Some people may be at a higher risk of infertility and may benefit from seeking out a specialist sooner, such as [2,11]:

              • Those with a family history of infertility 
              • Those over the age of 40
              • Heavy drinkers and smokers
              • Those experiencing signs of perimenopause
              • Those with cancer or have been treated for cancer
              • A prior diagnosis of endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, or another condition impacting reproductive health 

              It’s always encouraged that you speak directly to your healthcare provider about any of your questions or concerns. 

              Is infertility treatable?

              There are a lot of options for treating infertility depending on age, cause, and other factors. [1,11] Fertility treatments may include assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IVF and IUI, prescription medications such as ovulation induction drugs, or other family planning options such as sperm or egg donation, gestational carriers, etc. [1,11] For more information, read my guide on What to Do After Being Diagnosed with Infertility. 

              To summarize

              Infertility is a condition that up to 15% of couples struggle with. [1] If you are concerned about your ability to conceive, you’re not alone. Focus on supporting your overall health through a balanced diet, vitamin regime, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and regular exercise. If you notice any signs of subfertility, speak to a healthcare provider about being evaluated. Natalist has products to support both female and male fertility. Shop all fertility products here or get more information on our blog. 

               

              Please note that while we use terms such as “male” and “female”, we recognize that biology does not dictate anyone's gender, and not all of our customers will fall into these categories. 

               

              References:

              1. Infertility. Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. April 26 2023. URL.
              2. Infertility. Mayo Clinic. September 1 2021. URL. Accessed May 2023. 
              3. Sorenson M, Grant WB. Does vitamin D deficiency contribute to erectile dysfunction?. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(2):128-136. doi:10.4161/derm.20361
              4. El Refaeey A, Selem A, Badawy A. Combined coenzyme Q10 and clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction in clomiphene-citrate-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome. Reprod Biomed Online. 2014;29(1):119-124. doi:10.1016/j.rbmo.2014.03.011
              5. Salvio G, Cutini M, Ciarloni A, Giovannini L, Perrone M, Balercia G. Coenzyme Q10 and Male Infertility: A Systematic Review. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021;10(6):874. Published 2021 May 30. doi:10.3390/antiox10060874
              6. Infertility. Cleveland Clinic. April 19 2023. URL. Accessed May 2023. 
              7. Stupplebeen DA, Eliason MJ, LeBlanc AJ, Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV. Differential Influence of Weight Status on Chronic Diseases by Reported Sexual Orientation Identity in Men. LGBT Health. 2019;6(3):126-133. doi:10.1089/lgbt.2018.0167
              8. Gaskins, A;; Rich-Edwards, J; Hauser, R; et al. Maternal Prepregnancy Folate Intake and Risk of Spontaneous Abortion and Stillbirth. Obstetrics & Gynecology 124(1):p 23-31, July 2014. | DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000343 
              9. Duckitt K, Qureshi A. Recurrent miscarriage. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015;2015:1409. Published 2015 Oct 19.
              10. Male Infertility. Mayo Clinic. December 28 2022. URL. Accessed May 2023.
              11. Evaluating Infertility. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. FAQ136. August 2022. URL. Accessed May 2023.

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