According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10% of women experience infertility. The CDC defines infertility as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying, or six months if the woman is 35 or older. To make matters worse, many women don’t realize they have infertility issues until after they have been trying to conceive for multiple months. So by the time they consult a fertility specialist, precious time has been lost, which can further affect your emotional and psychological health.
Below are four common signs that you may need to have your fertility analyzed by a doctor or specialist.
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
This one can be difficult to catch since there’s no single definition of a normal menstrual cycle. But consistency is usually a clear indicator. So if your periods fluctuate between coming very infrequently, too often, or not at all some months, you may want to talk with your doctor or a fertility expert. In addition, spotting or irregular bleeding, or noticeable fluctuations in the amount of blood during menstruation, are also common signs. The hopeful news is that such irregularities may be caused by hormonal imbalances, which can usually be treated.
If you experience pelvic pain during intercourse or when using the bathroom, endometriosis may be the cause. This condition can also cause intense pain during your menstrual cycle. Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is located outside the uterus, which can make it more difficult, though certainly not impossible, to get pregnant. If you have such symptoms, it’s suggested that you consult your doctor.
Most women begin to experience menopause in their late 40s or early 50s, with the most common symptom being regular hot flashes. Since menopause signals the beginning of the end of a woman’s fertile years, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you are having hot flashes earlier in life. This condition is often hereditary, so if your mother had premature menopause, you may be at higher risk.
Having a milky discharge coming from your breasts when you’re not pregnant or currently breastfeeding can be a symptom of infertility. This discharge is caused by high levels of the hormone prolactin, which signals your body to produce breast milk. It also interrupts normal production of sex hormones necessary to conceive. Elevated prolactin levels can be the result of irregular ovulation cycles or a thyroid issue, both of which may be treatable, especially when caught early.
It’s important to note that many women suffering from infertility do not experience symptoms, making it harder to catch. But since diagnosing and treating infertility issues early can significantly improve your chances of getting pregnant faster, if you are showing any of the symptoms listed above, please consult your doctor to learn about your options.
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