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Many couples struggle with infertility when trying to conceive a child, and it is often a life-changing diagnosis for those who hope to become parents. In most cases, people are unaware of their condition until they begin trying to get pregnant. A significant number of patients who are infertile show no outward signs or symptoms. There are many treatments for infertility, including medication and reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization, which can help couples to have children still. If you are concerned about infertility, you should talk to your gynecologist or primary care physician, but you should also be aware of the symptoms of this condition.

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Inability to Become Pregnant

The primary symptom of infertility is the inability to become pregnant. Because this is often the only symptom, many patients do not find out about their condition until they are trying to conceive. Often, infertility occurs as a result of another disease or infection. It can also occur naturally in both men and women. Treatments may help some patients to become pregnant, but will not work in all cases. Even with healthy couples, the period of trying to conceive can take months before a pregnancy occurs. However, if you are worried that you or your partner may not be able to have children, you should talk to your physician about your concerns.

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No Periods

For those who have additional symptoms, amenorrhea, or not having a period, can be one of the biggest early symptoms of infertility. Illness, medication, weight changes, and other benign causes can trigger a missed period. A long-term absence of periods, however, can be a warning sign that your reproductive system is no longer ovulating. Without ovulation, you cannot become pregnant. If your doctor believes your amenorrhea is a symptom of infertility, they may prescribe medication that is meant to jump-start your ovaries and allow the menstrual cycle to begin again. This can take months or even years, so talk to your doctor right away if you miss more than two periods.

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Painful Periods

If you are experiencing painful periods, it may be caused by a condition that also causes infertility. Certain diseases of the female reproductive system, like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome, are triggers of painful menstrual cramps as well as fertility issues. Other painful complications like cysts and fibroids can also lead to infertility. Pain is your body's way of saying that something is wrong, so if you notice that your period cramps are suddenly more severe, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to find out whether it may be impacting your fertility, too.

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Weight Fluctuation

Women who are severely overweight or severely underweight may be at a higher risk for infertility. If you notice that you are rapidly gaining or losing weight, you should talk to your doctor to see how it will impact your ability to get pregnant later on. Sudden weight gain or loss can interfere with ovulation, which may have an impact on your likelihood of pregnancy. Eating disorders are a particularly dangerous cause of infertility, so make sure to talk to a physician about what type of impact your diet may have. Although fertility issues don't cause weight changes, these two symptoms usually go hand-in-hand.

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Irregular Periods

Irregular periods can be just as much of a sign of fertility problems as missed periods. A regular menstrual cycle typically indicates that your reproductive system is operating normally, with consistent ovulation each month. Irregular periods, on the other hand, can indicate that your ovulation cycles are abnormal. Failure to ovulate is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. It's no surprise that this symptom is one of the most common signs of a fertility problem. Irregular periods can mean periods that come more often or further apart than usual, or periods that are unusually heavy or light. Make sure to track your cycle each month so that you notice any changes.

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Unusual Hair Growth

Both men and women may notice a change in hair growth if they are struggling with infertility. That's because a hormonal imbalance often causes infertility. In women, this may mean an increase in testosterone or decrease in estrogen. This can lead to the growth of facial hair or excessive body hair. In men, balding or other hair loss can be a symptom of a decrease in testosterone or increase in estrogen. If you notice that your hair growth is suddenly abnormal, you should ask your doctor about checking hormone levels to see if there is a problem that will impact fertility.

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Pain in Testicles

In men, one of the most common symptoms of infertility is pain or discomfort in the testicles. This can indicate a more serious underlying health condition, like an infection or the development of scar tissue. While infertility does not cause the pain itself, the conditions that cause it are common reasons for fertility issues, as well. Depending on the exact cause of the pain, it may block the passage of sperm or prevent the male reproductive system from producing sperm altogether, making it impossible to impregnate a partner. Speak with your physician about any unusual discomfort in the testicular area.

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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common conditions that affect men. Those who suffer from this condition cannot get or maintain an erection, interfering with their ability to have intercourse and impregnate their female partner. Luckily, this condition can often be treated with medication or therapy, and it is usually a reversible symptom. This is often referred to as impotence rather than infertility. The end result is the same: an inability to produce children if left untreated. If you have issues with erectile dysfunction, you should talk to your doctor about a treatment regimen that can help to resolve fertility issues.

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Change in Sex Drive

Linked to hormonal imbalance, a change in sex drive can be a sign of infertility in both men and women. This is often more common in men. A sharp decline in testosterone has a major impact on both the ability to produce sperm and the desire for sex, decreasing both. A positive change in libido can also single a hormone imbalance for women, as well, with an increase in testosterone resulting in a higher sex drive. Libido often varies in both women and men. Any long-term changes should be discussed with your doctor, especially if you intend to try to conceive a child.

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Change in Ejaculation

Ejaculation is a necessary part of the reproductive cycle in order to produce a fertilized egg. For most men, this happens naturally. However, certain conditions and procedures can cause retrograde ejaculation, which is when semen enters the bladder instead of exiting the body normally. This can impede the impregnation process. Couples may require in vitro fertilization or other reproductive techniques in order to conceive a child. In other cases, the man's semen does not contain sperm, making it impossible to fertilize the egg naturally. If you notice any changes or have any concerns regarding the ejaculation process, you should talk to your physician.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.