5 Signs Of Infertility In Women: Symptoms Of Infertility, Defination & Causes

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every ten women might experience infertility due to a myriad of results. Infertility is defined as failing several times after trying to conceive with unprotected sex for at least one year.

The major causes of infertility could be seen due to the female factors approximately 1/3 of the time. On the other hand, about 1/3 of the time, both the male and female factors might be responsible for infertility and the inability of the females to conceive. In the remaining cases, the cause behind infertility could be due to a whisk of both the male and female factors.

In this article, we will delineate in detail infertility in women, its causes, symptoms and signs. However, diagnosing female infertility could be difficult. There are numerous treatments for female infertility that depend upon the major cause behind the problem.

Now let’s have a glance at the common signs of infertility in women.

According to the World Health Organisation, infertility is a type of disease in the female or the male reproductive system.

This disease is observed by the failure of the females to achieve pregnancy even after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex.

Having said that, the disease has affected a plethora of people of reproductive age globally and impacts their families and communities.

According to the estimates provided by the World Health Organisation, somewhere between 48 million to 186 million couples are infertile worldwide.

When infertility is caused in the male reproductive system, it might be observed with issues related to low sperm level, abnormal shape, and movement of the sperms or ejection of the semen.

On the other hand, infertility is caused in the female reproductive system due to a myriad of issues related to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, endocrine system, and uterus.

There are two types of infertility, primary and secondary. Primary infertility refers to infertility when pregnancy has never been achieved by the females during their entire lifetime.

On the other hand, secondary infertility refers to the situation when the female has been pregnant at least once in her lifetime.

Thus, in case you are infertile, you could visit a doctor and get treatment for your infertility according to its root cause.

5 Signs And Symptoms Of Infertility In Women

Since several reasons could lead to infertility, the signs behind infertility might depend upon the primary reason. However, let’s have a glance at some of the common signs of infertility in women.

  1. An Imbalance In The Hormone Levels

    If there is an imbalance or fluctuations in your hormone levels, then it could be due to infertility. If you have a hormone imbalance, then you may experience different issues sudden weight gain, thinning of hair, an amplified growth in facial hair, skin issues or even reduced desire for sex.

    PCOS is one of the major examples.

  2. Major Fluctuations In Your Period Cycles

    Generally, you might experience your periods within 28 days. Moreover, any duration that ranges near this might be considered normal. Say for example, in a normal period cycle, you could have a 33-day cycle once, then a 31-day cycle and then a 35-day cycle.

    On the other hand, if your cycle has a whopping variation in the durations each month then you could be experiencing irregular periods. The reason behind your irregular periods might be because of an imbalance in your hormones or even due to polycystic ovarian syndrome. No matter what is the reason behind the condition, irregular periods might be a sign of infertility.

    More about the menstrual cycle and health here.

  3. No Menstruation Cycle

    Generally, you might not get a menstruation cycle sometimes. The factors behind this could be due to heavy workouts or amplified stress that may lead to a temporary disappearance of your menstruation cycle.

    However, if you do not get your periods after a long span, then you could get your fertility checked.

    Detailed text here.

  4. Heavy Periods Along With Painful Cramps

    Generally, you may experience cramps during your periods. However, if you get heavy periods along with severe cramps, then it might be a symptom of infertility because it could be a reason for endometriosis.

  5. Painful Sex Every Time

    If you think that painful sex is normal, then you need to modify your opinions on the subject. This is because painful sex might be related to hormone imbalances, endometriosis or other reasons and causes related to infertility.

    Here are the problems that are discussed in detail.

Other symptoms or signs that could lead to infertility in women might include white milky discharge unrelated to milk from the nipples.

On the other hand, the major symptom that substantiates infertility in women is their inability to conceive. Or if you have irregular menstrual cycles, then it could mean that you are not ovulating and hence lead to infertility.

Causes Behind Infertility In Women

Generally, you are fertile only if the entire process of pregnancy occurs successfully inside your body. The different steps for pregnancy to be successful are explained below. First of all, one of the two ovaries might release an egg every alternate month. Then the fallopian tube picks up the egg from the ovary.

Now the sperm enters the cervix and swims upwards into the fallopian tube. Here it might fuse with the egg and result in fertilizations. Once the egg is fertilized it travels down the fallopian tube and attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. This is where the egg develops into an embryo and grows further.

However, if any of the above-mentioned steps of the pregnancy process is evaded by your body, then you may not be fertile. There could be different reasons that might inhibit any of these steps. Let’s have a look at the different factors that cause female infertility.

  1. Tubal Infertility

    Tubal infertility refers to a situation when your fallopian tubes are damaged. This could be a major reason behind infertility because damaged or blocked fallopian tubes might not be able to allow the sperm to fuse with the egg. Additionally, it might even inhibit the journey of the fertilized egg to the uterus later for implantation. The different reasons that could lead to tubal infertility are-

    • If you might have had any prior surgery in your pelvis or abdomen including ectopic pregnancy.
    • Any infection in the fallopian tube or the uterus like pelvic inflammatory disease or other sexually transmitted infections.
    • More about tubal infertility here.
    • More on the surgery of tubal infertility here.
  2. Ovulation Disorders

    Any disturbances in your ovulation cycle might lead to infertility due to your inability to release an egg. The major reason behind ovulation disorders could be an imbalance in the reproductive hormones in the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.

    • Production of excess prolactin. Sometimes the pituitary gland might lead to an excess production of prolactin, known as hyperprolactinemia, which could further cause infertility by truncating the production of oestrogen. However, the excess production might even be sometimes because of the consumption of different medications.
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome. Being one of the most common causes of female infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome leads to an imbalance in your hormone levels that could affect your ovulation cycle. This syndrome could be related to acne, facial hair growth, obesity and even insulin resistance.
    • Premature ovarian failure. Primary ovarian insufficiency or premature ovarian failure results in the premature loss of eggs from your ovary. The major reason behind this ovarian disorder might be because of an autoimmune response or chemotherapy and genetics.
    • Hypothalamus dysfunction. Under hypothalamus dysfunction, the major hormones responsible for stimulating the ovulation cycle may not be released by the pituitary gland. These two hormones include luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. An imbalance in the production of both these hormones along with the substantial weight loss or gain, emotional and physical stress might lead to hypothalamic dysfunction and infertility.

      More on ovulation disorder here.
  3. Cervical Issues

    In case there are certain cervical issues, then they may not allow implantation in the uterus wall. Hence, this could increase the risk of miscarriage. Let’s have a glance at the different uterine or cervical causes related to infertility in women.

    • The unusual shape of the uterus could cause problems during the implantation of the egg in its lining.
    • Sometimes you could even have tumors or benign polyps in your uterus, like myomas or fibroids. Such tumors could interfere in the process of implantation or even block your fallopian tubes from releasing the egg and affect fertility. However, some of the women who have tumors or polyps might become pregnant.
    • In certain situations, your cervix might not be able to produce the mucus that could allow the sperm to travel through the cervix. Hence, the process of fertilizations may not take place due to the inability of the sperm to travel to the egg and fuse with it.
    • Narrowing of the cervix also referred to as Cervical stenosis, might affect the fertilizations process. This could happen because of any damage to the cervix or inherited malformation and hence result in the ability of the egg to implant in the uterus.
    • More on cervical and uterine factors in infertility.
    • Its treatment is also discussed here.
  4. Endometriosis

    Endometriosis is a condition under which the tissue growing in the uterus might grow and implant in other places. This condition could require surgical removal and hence might affect the different reproductive parts. It may even inhibit the process of implantation of the fertilized egg or block the fallopian tubes and evade the fertilizations of sperm with the egg.

    More on it here.

  5. Unexplained Infertility

    Sometimes the cause of infertility might not be known. Hence it could be because of a whisk of different minor factors in both the partners.

    So, in all such cases, you may opt for the different treatments of infertility.

    • More on diagnosis and its treatment.
    • Another detailed discussion here.

Other Infertility Factors

There are even different factors that might amplify your risks to infertility. Let’s have a look at them-

  1. Age

    Age is a crucial factor that could affect your fertility. This is because once you cross the 30s barrier, the quantity, as well as the quality of your eggs, might deteriorate. This could increase the risk of miscarriage.

    Detailed aspects are discussed here.

  2. Weight

    Being underweight or overweight could affect your ovulation process. So you should stick to a healthy body mass index (BMI) that could help to improve your ovulation process and hence, increase your chances of conceiving.

    Impact of obesity discussed here.  Also, you might want to keep yourself aware of the impact of diet on fertility and the same is discussed here.

  3. Sexual History

    In case you have had any sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoeic or chlamydia, then it could damage your fallopian tubes. Hence evade having unprotected sex with multiple partners that could cause fertility issues later.

    More details here.

  4. Smoking

    Smoking might amplify your risks of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage because it could even damage your fallopian tubes and cervix. Additionally, when you smoke more, it could damage your ovaries and hence affect the ovulation process.

    Detailed governmental article here.

  5. Alcohol

    Consuming liquor in excess quantities may even reduce your fertility.

Final Words On Signs Of Infertility In Women

Thus, female infertility may come with different signs and symptoms. Once you recognize these signs, you may take different steps to bolster your fertility.

These steps could include maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, avoiding alcohol, and quitting smoking. In the end, you could even opt for treatment according to the root cause of your infertility.

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