Deciding to start a family can be an exciting chapter in your life, but when success doesn't come easily, the excitement can quickly turn into frustration. Although you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with each failed attempt, you can find relief in knowing that infertility is a common issue for many couples in the U.S..
In fact, over 10% of American couples struggle with infertility, and the underlying issues preventing pregnancy can come from either gender. Studies show that women are responsible for 30% of infertility challenges, whereas men make up an additional 30%. The remainder holds a combined struggle that men and women share, each contributing at least one factor to their overall infertility problem.
Regardless of where the issue comes from, taking the time to understand the difficulties that both genders face will help you create a fertility plan and achieve a healthy pregnancy. If you and your partner are searching for answers to your infertility problems, here are the main signs of female and male fertility challenges to look out for:
Signs of Infertility for Women
What many women may not realize is that hormone regulation plays an essential role in their ability to get pregnant. For instance, proper hormone levels lead to a strong reproductive health and more accurate ovulation cycles. On the other hand, a hormone imbalance can lead to various red flags that stifle any progress.
Women who are experiencing any of the issues below may be suffering from hormonal issues that are causing infertility:
- Irregular menstrual periods (compared to a 28-day cycle)
- Painful or heavy menstruation
- Skin irritations or facial hair growth
- Excessive weight gain
- Change in sex drive
- Pain during sex
Keep in mind, the presence of these issues may not represent the source of the problem, but they can help diagnose any inconsistencies that your body is experiencing. When consulting with a fertility expert, they will be able to connect your symptoms to a particular disorder, which in that case would require a certain kind of treatment to alleviate it.
Aside from hormonal issues that can be regulated with various medication, there are specific underlying problems that pose a much greater threat to your odds of starting a family. Here are a few common fertility challenges that women face in addition to the signs listed above:
A condition where small cysts form on the outer edge of the ovaries, preventing the egg from transferring to the uterus. This issue also may be the cause of irregular or missed periods since ovulation is halted. Hormonal changes are also a result of PCOS, which can cause weight gain, fatigue, acne, mood changes and headaches.
An often painful condition where the protective lining inside the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of it and forms along other parts of the reproductive organs. Although it is outside of the uterus, it will still undergo the same reactions with each menstrual cycle, causing it to shed and bleed within the pelvic area. The severe pain results in a painful or heavy menstruation.
Uterine fibroids are typically benign, small tumors that grow inside the uterine wall (womb) and potentially cause disruption to pregnancies. Their presence can also cause hormonal changes within the reproductive system.
On the bright side, these conditions are certainly manageable with the right kind of guidance. No matter what challenges you may be experiencing, a fertility specialist can pinpoint your issues and come up with a treatment plan to help you create the family of your dreams. However, if infertility persists after resolving complications on the female's behalf, the fault may rest on the male partner's shoulders.
Signs of Infertility in Men
Studies show that of the 10% of affected couples who struggle with infertility, 40% of the responsibility falls on the male partner. This means that a male partner may be dealing with a variety of issues that usually relate to a low sperm count or poor sperm condition.
Having a low sperm count could be the result of several lifestyle factors, like obesity, drug and alcohol use, or smoking cigarettes, so if any of these are present, the chances of infertility greatly increase. That being said, here are a few infertility warning signs for men to be aware of:
- Excessive weight gain
- Premature ejaculation or dry spells
- Infections from STDs
- Erectile dysfunction
- Swollen or painful testicles
The reason why these symptoms result in a low sperm count is because each one plays a major role in balancing out essential hormones for reproduction. Just like how the female partner relies on a healthy balance to increase the odds of achieving pregnancy, the male partner requires the same kind of stability to ensure insemination. Proper hormone levels also provide men with sperm that's potent in terms of volume, motility, and morphology.
These attributes represent the amount of sperm that's transferred through the semen, how well it travels, and how well it retains its shape during and after ejaculation. Sperm that meets this criteria will have the greatest chance of impregnating an egg, so they are crucial to repair if any issues persist.
Although certain lifestyle factors can be corrected and sperm health will regenerate over time, some physical problems will require a diagnosis from a fertility expert who can formulate a solid recovery plan. Here are a few common fertility challenges that men face which may require special attention:
Varicocele is the most commonly diagnosed cause of male infertility. In this condition, veins within the testicles are enlarged, which creates too much heat that damages the quantity and shape of sperm cells.
Infections or Blockages
Urinary tract infections, infections from STDs, or blockages throughout the reproductive organs caused by tumors, scar tissue or other obstructions can cause infertility in men and must be removed before sperm can travel successfully.
A condition where sperm is ejaculate into the bladder, rather than exiting from the urethra. This can result in a dry orgasm and usually does not lead not other serious health issues.
Overall, correcting these problems relies on a commitment to lead a healthier lifestyle. Once certain changes can be made, you and your partner can enjoy a greater realm of possibilities and success. Nonetheless, if any symptoms are reoccurring or if you feel like an underlying problem may be impeding your odds, seeking help from a fertility specialist can give you valuable insight that you won't find searching on your own.
Learn More with Kofinas Fertility Group
Your goal of starting a family should be one to enjoy, rather than endure, and Kofinas Fertility Group is here to guide you with unconditional support. To this point, new legislation passed by the New York State Assembly known as FAFTA could be a valuable resource for your family planning needs.
If you and your partner feel that any of these symptoms or conditions relate to your experiences, then please visit our guide, Infertility 101, to learn more about the challenges that men and women face.
Our mission is to help make your dream of having a family come true, so get started with Kofinas Fertility Group today and make that dream a reality.