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Signs of Infertility in Men and Women
Fertility Specialist
2021-05-27

Signs of Infertility in Men and Women

When you’re trying to conceive and expand your family, you may often find that it’s taking longer than you imagined it would. In some cases, the length of time may leave you wondering if you are infertile, or if there is an underlying issue that hasn’t been addressed. 

To help you understand what might be happening, and to provide some advice on when to see a specialist, we have put together this guide on the signs of infertility in both men and women. This gives you a list of some of the most common symptoms, and should also dispel a few myths about infertility.

Read on to learn more, or contact us today to speak with a member of staff and book yourself in for a free consultation.

Infertility Symptoms in Our Patients

The most common (and the most noticeable) sign of infertility in any of our patients will be the inability to conceive after having unprotected intercourse for 1 year in cases where a woman is below 35 years of age, and 6 months if over the age of 35. This should be the first point of reference that people look for if they feel there is an issue, as many of the other signs and symptoms of infertility won’t be as obvious until further tests and examinations are conducted. 

There are two noted types of infertility:

  • Primary infertility, which means that you and your partner have never had children together
  • Secondary infertility, which means that you and your partner have had children before but are now having trouble conceiving again

It may be the case that you or your partner are experiencing issues related to infertility. You may even find that both of you are having problems at the same time, which is more common than you might think. This possibility is why it’s important for both of you to seek advice if you are having trouble becoming parents.

As a specialist fertility clinic and treatment provider, we are very familiar with the stigma surrounding fertility problems, and difficulties in conceiving. That’s why we are here to tell you that you are not alone in your struggle. Fertility issues are not rare by any means, and they are nothing to be ashamed of. Catching the signs and symptoms early means the problem can be assessed and dealt with sooner, so please don’t hesitate to book an appointment.

You should also remember that while the term “infertility” is often used, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to have the family you want. In many cases, treatments are available that can help you and your partner to conceive, particularly if you are young and in otherwise good health. 

When you book your first consultation here at GENNET City Fertility, the treatments we have available will be discussed with you as options for continuing your journey on the road to parenthood.

Can Young People Experience Infertility?

While it is statistically less likely, it is not uncommon for young couples to find that they are struggling to conceive. In the US alone, it has been reported that 7% of women between the ages of 20 and 24 are infertile, so it is always important to be aware that this is an issue that can affect people of all ages.

Signs of Infertility in Men

In many cases, the signs of infertility in men, or transgender or non-binary patients who were born male will actually be symptoms of their own. Underlying issues such as genetic diseases, inherited disorders, hormonal imbalances, dilated veins around the testicle, or conditions that block the passage of sperm may all have male infertility as a symptom.

There are also several other common signs and symptoms which you may wish to note for yourself:

  • Problems with sexual function (e.g. changes in sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, or difficulty with ejaculation)
  • Pain, swelling, or even lumps in the testicle area
  • Having small, firm testicles
  • Blood in your semen
  • Decreased facial or body hair, or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • A lower than normal sperm count (recorded at fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen)
  • Recurrent respiratory infections (which may be a sign of Kartagener’s syndrome)
  • An inability to smell (which may be a sign of Kallmann syndrome)

In most cases, it’s suggested that patients should speak to their doctor about potential fertility issues if they haven’t had success with conceiving a child after a year of actively trying. However, if you are having problems with sexual function, or have noticed pain, lumps, or swelling in your testicles then we strongly recommend that you speak with a professional as soon as possible. Treating a problem early will ensure your peace of mind and may be beneficial to your health in the long term.

We would also advise that male patients speak with their doctor or a fertility specialist if they have a history of testicle, prostate, or sexual problems, or have previously had surgery or suffered an injury on their groin, testicles, penis, or scrotum.

Signs of Infertility in Women

After the inability to conceive a child after a year or so of actively trying, the most common signs of infertility in women, or transgender or non-binary patients who were born female will normally involve the patient’s menstrual cycle. However, these may not be the only signs and symptoms so it is important to take note of any change and consult your doctor or a specialist if you feel that something may be wrong.

Common signs and symptoms of infertility in female patients include:

  • Having irregular periods (your period cycles vary so greatly that you can’t even estimate when they will arrive)
  • Having a menstrual cycle lasting fewer than 21 days or longer than 35 days
  • Having very painful periods
  • Having abnormal bleeding while on your period (an extremely heavy flow)
  • Having no period at all for months
  • Experiencing pain during sexual intercourse
  • Blood in your urine or bowel movements
  • Signs and symptoms relating to hormonal fluctuation (e.g. skin issues such as severe acne, a reduced sex drive, growth of facial hair, thinning hair elsewhere, or weight gain)

Some of these may be signs that you have developed polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can result in anovulatory cycles (no egg is released). Ovaries become enlarged with numerous small follicles and an excess of male hormones are produced in a body that is biologically female. Conversely, symptoms such as hair loss or thinning may also be early signs of other conditions relating to infertility, such as issues with your thyroid, anaemia, or autoimmune disorders.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we would highly recommend that you speak with your doctor or a fertility specialist as soon as possible. Getting any problems treated early will help to give you peace of mind, and maybe beneficial for the treatment of any other health problems you have been experiencing.

Can Birth Control Make You Infertile?

We must make it clear right away that birth control cannot make you infertile. This is a myth that has been circulated based on the fact that some contraceptive types, particularly birth control pills, require a few months’ wait once the patient has stopped taking it before their fertility cycle returns completely to normal. 

With most types of oral and non-oral contraceptives, this should take around three months. However, if you have decided in the past to use the contraceptive injection, which is best known in the UK under the brand name Depo-Provera, it may take up to a year for your cycle to re-establish itself. As such, it is recommended that you don’t use this contraceptive method if you are planning on becoming pregnant in the near future.

Improving Your Fertility

Even if an exact cause of infertility cannot be found (as may be the case for some patients), a fertility specialist will still be able to recommend a series of fertility tests and treatments which could soon see you and your partner forming the family you’ve always wanted.

In many cases, a doctor may first suggest that you and your partner try to conceive naturally for a little bit longer. Often, if a couple doesn’t conceive without assistance within a year of trying, they will succeed within the second year. This means there is a good chance that it will work for you as well.

There are also a number of things you can do to help improve your fertility and increase your chances of conceiving:

  • Keep to a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly and stay in shape
  • Moderate your consumption of alcohol
  • Stop smoking
  • Have sex every 2-3 days

If these do not work on their own, or a diagnosis has recently been made which suggests that they will not work on their own, a specialist may also be able to suggest a number of fertility treatments for you and your partner. These include:

  • Initial investigations - Ovarian Reserve Test, Hysterosalpingo Contract Sonography (HyCoSy), Luteal Phase Progesterone test, Semen Assessment
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART, which may involve IVF or ICSI)
  • Hormone treatments and medications
  • Surgery, particularly in male fertility cases where the problem is a varicocele or a prior vasectomy
  • Treatments for infections (antibiotics)
  • Treatments for problems with sexual function (this may involve medication or counselling)

Here at GENNET City Fertility’s clinic in London, we may also suggest using a sperm or egg donor if you are not able to use your own for any reason.

Our Fertility Assessments and Investigations

At GENNET City Fertility we are able to offer a wide variety of investigations and assessments which may provide clarification on what is causing your infertility. From these, we will then be able to advise you on the next steps you’ll need to take if you’d like to start expanding your family.

Couple’s Initial Consultation Package

The first of our offered assessments is the Couple’s Initial Consultation Package, for £350. This basic fertility assessment package covers blood tests, an ultrasound scan, and a semen analysis, and is applicable to both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ couples.

Screenings and Investigations for Women

Our investigations to determine the causes behind infertility in women, or transgender, or non-binary patients who were born female include the Female Fertility Assessment, which predicts your ovarian reserve, and our other investigations

Specific tests which may be carried out in these investigations are as follows:

  • Ovulation examination
  • Genetic testing for inheritable conditions
  • Screening for blood clotting disorders
  • Immunological testing for antibodies against sperm, ovarian antibodies, and trophoblast
  • Hysterosalpingo Contract Sonography (HyCoSy)
  • Hysteroscopy, to examine the uterus from within and to carry out minor surgeries, such as the removal of polyps, adhesions, or smaller fibroids
  • Laparoscopy, to inspect the pelvic region and enable the treatment of ovarian cysts and the evaluation of the fallopian tubes

Screenings and Investigations for Men

The investigations and screenings we will carry out to determine the causes behind infertility in men, or transgender or non-binary patients who were born male include our Male Fertility Assessment, which will involve collecting a semen sample to determine sperm quality and count, and our One Stop Male Fertility Clinic, which offers a comprehensive package in a session conducted once a week.

We also offer a series of other male investigations, which are listed below:

  • Semen culture
  • Sperm DNA fragmentation test
  • Post orgasmic urine analysis
  • Male reproductive hormonal profile
  • Male reproductive genetic profile
  • Male genital tract imaging

Booking a Consultation for Further Advice

If you and your partner know you’re ready to take the next step on the road to parenthood but feel as though you may need some assistance getting there, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at GENNET City Fertility.

We’ll be happy to book you in for a free first consultation with one of our specialists, and after we have carried out the required assessments, we’ll be able to help you find the tests and treatments that could soon help you form the family you’ve always wanted.

Dr Malini Uppal
Fertility Specialist