Many couples have to deal with infertility, yet often they are not even aware there is a problem until they start trying to conceive. Infertility is when a couple fails to conceive after a year despite having regular unprotected intercourse. About 85% of couples are able to conceive naturally within one year, and 92% within 2 years. If the couple has not conceived after two years then it is likely there is an infertility problem and medical advice should be sought.
There are some physical signs of infertility that can manifest themselves during this time, so it is useful to be aware of these so that early investigation can take place if necessary. Physical signs of infertility are most common in women, but men too can show some signs.
In women, the most common symptoms of infertility are menstruation and ovulation problems, along with hormonal disruptions, infection and pelvic abnormalities.
A disruption to the menstrual cycle may indicate fertility problems. Signs to look out for here include an irregular cycle, excessive bleeding, or an absence of ovulation (amenorrhea).
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which is a common cause of infertility in women, is characterized by an increase in male hormones. Possible signs of PCOS are severe acne, obesity, excessive hair growth, and oily skin.
Pain in connection with the reproductive organs may also be physical signs of infertility. Severe menstrual cramps, painful intercourse, pain in the pelvic area or a slight bulge in the lower abdomen are all possible indicators of a fertility problem.
Infections such as recurring urinary tract infections, or recurring yeast infections, as well as sexually transmitted infections like Chlamydia can all be signs of infertility.
The physical signs of infertility in men is less apparent, but anatomical or physical problems may be an indicator. These include one testicle smaller than the other, small testicles, pain or swelling in the testicles, difficulty urinating or ejaculating, and urine that is milky white after orgasm. Hormonal problems can also show up in the form of small soft testicles, blurred vision, and difficulty with sexual function.
Most fertility problems are treatable, and by being aware of the signs of infertility, couples are able to recognize there may be a problem earlier, and so obtain help and deal with it that much quicker.