Infertility doesn't come with inbuilt alarm bells. Which is why, if you've been struggling to conceive a baby, it's a good idea to watch for warning signs your body might already be giving you.
Infertility may be influenced by the male or female partner. And while many couples experience no symptoms whatsoever, others might notice subtle clues, triggered by underlying conditions.
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Fertility and sex drive are both products of hormonal health, inherently linked to each other. If you find yourself slipping out of your element in bed, your lack of libido could point to a fertility problem.
Pain in the testicles is usually a manifestation of an underlying condition that could be a factor of infertility.
An inability to cause or maintain an erection could be a sign of low hormone levels, which could, in turn, lead to difficulty conceiving.
Likewise with ejaculation. Problems ejaculating could be your body's way of alerting you that all is not well and that you might need specialist help.
As a harbour of healthy sperm, testicles play a critical role in the reproductive mechanism. Shrunken or hard testicles, therefore, could be a cause for concern, indicating that something's not right.
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First off, it's important to define what a 'regular menstrual cycle' is. The average menstrual cycle is considered about 28 days long, but anything within a week over or under this range is considered normal too. If your periods are predictable, but not exact - a 31-day cycle one month, a 34-day cycle the next, and so on - it's likely that your menstrual cycle is fine. However, if your periods are so erratic that you are unable to predict them at all, you should have yourself checked for hormonal imbalances or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), both of which are precursors to infertility.
Menstrual cramps are part and parcel of periods, but when they become so crippling that you're unable to go on with your daily life, you should have yourself evaluated for an underlying condition. Endometriosis is a common culprit of debilitating menstrual cramps, and can also seriously interfere with fertility.
Factors like stress, excessive exercise and heavy dieting can derail your menstrual cycle from time to time. But if you haven't had your monthly visitor in months, there's likely a deeper rooted reason that needs diagnosing.
When your hormonal equilibrium is skewed, your fertility can be compromised. Skin problems, a reduced libido, excessive facial hair, weight gain and thinning hair are all signs of hormonal imbalances.
If pain has always been an accompaniment to intercourse, it's likely that you've resigned yourself to the fact that it's normal. However, painful intercourse is anything but that. It could be a sign of hormonal problems, endometriosis or another fertility-compromising condition.
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Not all cases of infertility exhibit outwardly signs or symptoms. When it comes to seeking help, it's wise to meet a fertility specialist if you've been trying to conceive for at least a year (if you're a woman under 35) and at least six months (if you're a woman over 35). Nonetheless, it's worth priming yourself to spot signs and symptoms of infertility early to save yourself the heartache of a late diagnosis. By seeking help at the right time, you can get a golden head start to building your family.
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