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How Do I Know if it’s a Male or Female Infertility Problem?

Having a baby is part of many people’s life plans. Although 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2020, there are others who struggle to make the dream of parenthood a reality. Infertility is often viewed as a woman’s condition, but statistics do not bear that out.

About 9% of men and 11% of women have experienced fertility problems. About one-third of infertility struggles are attributed to the male, the same percentage as attributed to women. The other third of infertility involves a combination involving the man and the woman, or the cause cannot be identified. Age does directly impact fertility for women and men, though women experience a sharper decrease in fertility as they get older. A woman is only half as fertile in her early 30s as she was in her early 20s, and after she hits 35, her fertility takes another significant dip. Sperm quality in men declines around age 45 but becomes a more significant factor after the age of 60.

Infertility Symptoms

Many of these couples have no overt symptoms of potential infertility and are unaware they are affected until they try to conceive. Yet there are signs that conceiving may not come easily. Smoking affects the fertility of men and women. Lighting up a cigarette reduces a man’s sperm quality and count. For women, smoking can lead to diminished egg quality and that can lead to more genetic abnormalities.

Some factors affect both men and women, while others are gender-specific. Let’s take a look at both sexes and how infertility signs might appear.

Female Infertility Signs

  • Irregular periods. The average woman’s cycle is 28 days long, but it is normal for the length of time to vary by a few days. If cycles vary greatly it is a sign of a potential infertility problem, either related to hormones or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
  • Painful or heavy periods. Experiencing cramps during periods is normal, but painful cramps that affect daily life may be a sign of endometriosis.
  • No periods. Stress and heavy workouts can cause a woman to skip a period. An occasional missed period is not necessarily an issue, but it is a sign of potential infertility if several months pass without a period.
  • Hormone fluctuations. Swings in hormone levels can be a sign of infertility. Symptoms include skin issues, reduced sex drive, facial hair growth, thinning hair, and weight gain.
  • Pain during sex. Painful sex is not normal and is usually related to underlying conditions that can affect fertility.

Male Infertility Signs

  • Changes in sexual desire. A man’s virility if often governed by hormones. A waning desire can indicate fertility problems.
  • Testicle pain or swelling. There are several different conditions that could lead to pain or swelling in the testicles, many of which could contribute to infertility.
  • Problems maintaining erection. Maintaining an erection is often linked to hormone levels. Reduced hormones can affect a man’s fertility.
  • Issues with ejaculation. An inability to ejaculate is a sign that an underlying condition is present.
  • Small, firm testicles. Testicle health is an important element of male fertility. Small or firm testicles indicate potential issues.

Preparing for Pregnancy

There are steps you can take to improve your chances of conception.

First and foremost, take care of yourself. No matter your gender, consider the following:

  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stop smoking
  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Eliminate alcohol
  • Minimize stress

Women should monitor their cycles to determine when they are most fertile, and begin taking prenatal vitamins. Men should exercise regularly (linked to higher testosterone levels) and get enough vitamins C, D, and E and zinc (linked to improved sperm count, quality, and movement).

Seeing a Fertility Specialist

For most couples, you should make an appointment with a fertility specialist if you have been trying to get pregnant for one year or more. For those 35 and older, you should consult a specialist if you do not become pregnant within six months of trying. If you have any of the symptoms discussed here, we suggest you disregard those timelines and make an appointment with one of our fertility specialists.

At the Palm Beach Fertility Center, we understand the anxiety and frustration you feel when you are unable to conceive. We offer the latest diagnostic tools and treatment protocols to improve your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. You will be supported throughout the process by our team of caring professionals.

If you are battling infertility, let us help. Make an appointment by calling (888) 819-5177 or using our online form.