Female Infertility: Physical Symptoms
While many of the underlying causes of infertility may not manifest themselves in physical symptoms, there are some apparent signals that may be experienced by a woman who is having difficulty getting pregnant. Some of these infertility symptoms may indicate a serious complication affecting the female reproductive system, while others may only affect the chances of getting pregnant, and may be easily identified by a physical examination.
Some of the most common infertility symptoms experienced by women trying to conceive manifest themselves in apparent changes or unusual symptoms associated with reproductive functioning. These infertility symptoms most commonly include menstruation and ovulation problems, hormonal disruptions, infection, pelvic abnormalities, and pain.
The Menstrual Cycle
Any disruption of the menstrual cycle can cause female fertility problems. This includes both ovulatory complications as well as disruptions of menstruation:
- Anovulation, in which a woman still menstruates but an egg is not released
- Amenorrhea or the absence of menstruation
- Excessive bleeding
Experiencing these infertility symptoms can indicate an infertility diagnosis such as:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Premature ovarian failure (POF)
- Uterine/vaginal birth defects
- Fibroid tumor
- Uterine damage caused by IUDs
Hormones regulate the body's reproductive system and a hormonal imbalance may affect fertility. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a cause of infertility that is characterized by an increase or and excess of male hormones (androgens) in women. The following infertility symptoms are associated with hormonal imbalance and could be a sign of PCOS:
- Chronic acne that cannot be linked to other causative factors such as stress
- Excessive hair growth that is not due to genetic predisposition
- Oily skin
Irregular basal body temperature (BBT), which changes in accordance to the menstrual cycle, could be a sign of infertility conditions such as:
- Immunological problems
- Luteal phase defect (LPD)
- Premature ovarian failure (POF)
Experiencing pain associated with the reproductive organs could by a sign of fertility complications. Some of the most common of these infertility symptoms include the following:
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Experiencing painful intercourse could be a sign of endometriosis or fibroid tumors (which are not cancerous)
- Pelvic pain may indicate a number of conditions such as endometriosis, fibroid tumors, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine damage, or uterine and vaginal birth defects
- A slight bulge in the lower abdomen may indicate a fibroid tumor
Infections Affecting Fertility
Infections, especially ones that recur or are left untreated, may significantly affect fertility. Some of these infections that may either be a cause of infertility or an infertility symptom include the following:
- Recurring urinary tract infections which can indicate pelvic inflammatory disease or immunological problems that affect fertility
- Sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia can lead to permanent scarring and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease
- Recurrent yeast infections may be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease or immunological problems
Other Infertility Symptoms
Other physical symptoms may be a sign of infertility. Weight loss or weight gain due to factors such as obesity or excessive exercise may cause disruptions to the menstrual cycle and indicate PCOS.
Suffering from a hernia can affect fertility since the abdomen pushes through the abdominal wall, causing symptoms that include a bulge in the abdomen, pain, pressure, and a burning sensation.
Lastly, a high fever can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease or a urinary tract infection that will require immediate medical attention. Only a woman knows best as to what is normal for her particular reproductive system. Talk to a health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms that may be a sign of infertility.
Also check out our pregnancy videos for more information.
Visit our forum to chat with other women about female infertility.