Tracing the Signs and Symptoms of Infertility and Potential Treatment Options

  • June 11, 2024
  • blog

Infertility is a medical condition affecting millions of couples worldwide. It is defined as the inability to conceive even after one year of unprotected intercourse. Infertility turns out to be a stressful experience for couples, and it’s imperative to identify the signs and symptoms of infertility early.

Infertility doesn’t mean a person is sterile; it points to some underlying conditions that cause trouble conceiving. Simply explained, infertility is not getting pregnant despite having unprotected intercourse over a prolonged period. The condition affects both men and women and can be treated with timely intervention.

In this article, we have discussed the common signs and symptoms of infertility. We have also come up with comprehensive guidelines on when to see a doctor and the types of diagnostic processes available.

How Common Is Infertility?

Currently, around 48 million couples around the world are facing fertility problems. While this condition affects 33% of both men and women, a combination of both accounts for the remaining cases. Therefore, infertility is a very common problem. Around a quarter of infertile couples encounter problems having babies due to more than a single factor contributing to the problem.

On identifying the symptoms of infertility early, most couples can seek proper treatment and have babies. With advancements in medical care, various diagnostic and treatment processes are now available, including in vitro fertilization IVF.

Symptoms of Infertility in Women

Check out the common symptoms of infertility in women, which is evident through irregular periods and hormonal imbalances.

Long and Painful Periods

Heavy, painful, and long periods are one of the common symptoms of female infertility. While some women experience periods for a few days with light flow, others experience painful cramps during heavy and long periods. Painful periods may show signs of endometriosis, a medical condition where tissues supposed to be present in the womb are present in other parts of the body.

Endometriosis is one of the common risk factors for infertility in women. Some of the other symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Chronic pelvic pain (even at times when there’s no menstruation)
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Pain during sex
  • Nausea
  • Spotting
  • Irregular periods
  • Painful bowel movements

Irregular Menstrual Cycle

infertility symptoms

 If the menstrual cycle is too short (around 21 days) or too long (around 35 days), it should be considered a common sign of infertility in women. Typically, in a healthy individual, the interval between two consecutive periods should remain the same.

Some other signs and symptoms of infertility include irregular periods or missed periods. These conditions imply that a woman may not be ovulating regularly.

Several factors can lead to irregular ovulation, including obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS, thyroid issues, and being underweight.

Pale or Dark Menstrual Blood

Pale or dark menstrual blood is one of the common signs of infertility in women. Usually, this blood should be bright red at the beginning of a period. In the following days, the colour gradually becomes darker.

However, if a period starts and is accompanied by the discharge of old, very dark blood, it can indicate endometriosis.

Hormonal Changes

Although hormonal changes tend to be nonspecific, there might be no direct symptom explaining the underlying cause. In these cases, it’s essential to see a doctor who would recommend necessary tests.

Fluctuations in the level of hormones can lead to different issues, including:

  • Severe acne
  • Hair fall issues, including thinning
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Discharge from the nipples
  • The presence of facial hair

All these conditions are common signs and symptoms of infertility, which call for medical attention. 

Other Factors

Some other factors leading to infertility in women include uterine fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain, leading to difficulty in conceiving. PID, on the other hand, is an infection of the female reproductive organs that result in pelvic pain, irregular menstrual cycles, and damage to the fallopian tubes. All these factors increase the risk of infertility in females. 

Diagnosing and Treating Infertility in Women

 In women, fertility treatment starts with a series of medical tests recommended by the healthcare provider. These include:

  • A Pelvic Examination
  • Blood Tests
  • Transvaginal Ultrasound
  • Saline Sonohysterogram (SIS)
  • Sono Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
  • X-ray Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
  • Laparoscopy

Symptoms of Infertility in Men

From low sperm count to genetic disorders and hormonal imbalances to erectile dysfunction, the symptoms of infertility in men are many. Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms.

Hormonal Imbalances

Different types of hormonal imbalances affect fertility in men. Testosterone is the key hormone that affects fertility in men. If a man encounters issues in the testicles to produce this hormone, it can result in infertility. 

The pituitary gland in men produces two hormones, the luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone that signal the testicles to make testosterone and sperm. Problems in the pituitary gland can affect male fertility.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction refers to a condition where men find it difficult to get erect or maintain an erection. This is one of the key signs and symptoms of infertility and occurs due to physical issues, psychological factors, or hormonal changes.

While 52% of men experience some kind of ED, the risk factor increases for men reaching the age 40. From 40 to 70 years of age, the risk of ED increases from 5% to 15% in men.

Once ED becomes more common in a man, it leads to problems during sexual intercourse. 

Changes in Testicles

Changes in the testicles are a common symptom of infertility in men. To retain male fertility, healthy testicles are a must. Firm or small testicles that feel tight can point to hormonal issues. 

Besides, testicles that feel swollen, tender, or painful also indicate underlying issues like infection. This is one of the symptoms of infertile sperm, leading to a low sperm count that affects male fertility.

Other Factors Leading to Male Infertility

Several other factors can lead to infertility, including:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Age
  • History of STPs
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Poor diet

Diagnosing and Treating Infertility in Men

In men, the problem primarily lies in low sperm count or erectile dysfunction. Physicians recommend the following diagnosis processes:

  • Semen analysis
  • Blood test
  • Scrotal ultrasound

Common Treatments for Infertility in Men And Women

The most common treatment for infertility in couples includes assisted reproductive technology (ART). This is a system where the healthcare provider handles the egg or sperm to enhance the chances of pregnancy. They also recommend necessary medication to stimulate ovulation before trying out the following treatment options.

  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
  • Assisted Hatching
  • Third-party ART

 The good news is that around 85% to 90% of infertility cases can be cured through ART, medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes. While living with infertility is stressful, make sure to seek professional consultation from experts. 

Paving Your Path to Parenthood With Comprehensive Infertility Treatment

At Santokh Hospital, we offer comprehensive treatment processes for infertility in both men and women. With our comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and personalized treatment plans, we have successfully enhanced the lifestyle of hundreds of couples. If you notice any signs and symptoms of infertility, feel free to schedule an appointment with us. We find pleasure in supporting couples on their path to parenthood with hope and confidence.