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Warning Signs of Infertility You Shouldn’t Ignore

By Prelude Fertility|February 29th, 2024

Recognizing signs of infertility early on is crucial for timely intervention. While some symptoms may seem minor or go unnoticed, others, such as sudden changes in menstrual cycles or testicular health, could signal underlying issues. If you experience any concerning symptoms, it's important to consult your physician or a fertility specialist promptly. For all aspiring parents, it's worth noting that male factor, female factor, and unexplained infertility percentages are equal, underscoring the importance of undergoing evaluation as soon as possible. Seeking prompt diagnosis and treatment can improve your chances of conceiving and help you on your journey to parenthood.

Know When to Seek a Fertility Evaluation

The pregnancy journey is complex, and when any part of the process involving eggs, sperm, or other components faces challenges, infertility may result. It's advisable for couples aged 35 and older, regardless of gender, to undergo a fertility evaluation if they have been trying to conceive for at least six months without success. For couples under 35, seeking evaluation after one year of trying is recommended. Certain circumstances, such as undergoing cancer treatment, may necessitate an earlier visit.

Women with existing fertility issues, irregular periods, a history of multiple miscarriages, or diagnosed reproductive conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, should seek evaluation sooner. Similarly, men with a family history of infertility, or experiencing issues related to sperm, testicular health, prostate, or sexual function, may benefit from earlier checkups.

Cautionary Female Infertility Signs

A woman's peak reproductive years typically range from the late teens to the late 20s. Fertility starts to decline around age 30, with a more rapid decline in the mid-30s, and by age 45, natural pregnancy becomes rare.

Signs of female infertility may not always be noticeable, but changes in the menstrual cycle, such as cycles lasting fewer than 21 days or longer than 35 days, could indicate potential issues. Missing periods may suggest ovulation problems, which can be caused by factors like obesity, being underweight, or thyroid issues. Other symptoms of potential fertility issues include:

  • Dyspareunia (pain during sex)
  • Hormonal changes, which can lead to symptoms like severe acne, cold extremities, unexplained weight gain, and decreased sex drive.

Potential Signs of Male Infertility

Male infertility can be subtle, only being detectable only with a fertility evaluation. The main benchmark of testing male fertility is assessing sperm health and count. While men retain the ability to produce sperm throughout their lives, the quality, quantity, and motility (movement) of sperm typically decline with age, often affecting fertility. Men 40 and older are also more likely to experience sexual function issues, such as ejaculation disorders, reduced libido, and erectile dysfunction, all of which can contribute to issues when trying to conceive. Other concerns related to the male reproductive system, such as swollen, painful, or tender testicles, may indicate underlying health issues like varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum), which can affect fertility. 

Hormonal imbalances can also contribute to male infertility, particularly if affecting the testes or pituitary gland. The testicles produce the male sex hormone testosterone, while the pituitary gland makes two others — luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) — which signal the testes to make testosterone and sperm. Hormonal imbalance signs include:

  • Increased breast tissue growth
  • Small or firm testicles
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Changes in mental health (e.g., cognitive issues, memory loss)
  • Changes in emotional health (e.g., mood changes, anxiety, depression)
  • Sleep disturbances or fatigue
  • Hair loss (facial and body)
  • Changes in urination
  • Changes in blood pressure

Recognize the Signs of Infertility and Take Action

For both women and men, specific signs and symptoms may indicate a need for medical attention regarding infertility. Early diagnosis by your physician or fertility specialist is crucial for starting treatment promptly. If you're considering a fertility consultation, we encourage you to reach out to The Prelude Network® today and find a fertility clinic near you in the US or Canada.