Doctors usually describe infertility as the inability to become pregnant after trying to conceive for 1 year. Infertility affects both men and women. There are several causes of infertility including past or current medical conditions. Lifestyle factors can also lead to infertility. There are signs and symptoms to look for that may indicate infertility; however, medical testing is needed to correctly diagnose infertility.
Understand fertility signs in women. Women of childbearing age can watch for signs they are ovulating each month. Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from the ovary for fertilization. Signs of ovulation include an increase in cervical mucus, an increase in body temperature and an ache or pain in the lower abdomen. Keep in mind a lack of ovulation signs does not always indicate infertility.
Keep track of your menstrual cycle. If you are not having regular periods it may indicate your body is not producing adequate amounts of certain hormones. There may be an imbalance of estrogen or progesterone. An occasional missed period may not be anything serious, but regularly missing periods may indicate infertility.
Undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Certain sexually transmitted diseases may lead to infertility. Some sexually transmitted diseases in women can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease which may cause infertility. Gonorrhea in men can lead to infertility.
Be aware of lifestyle factors that can lead to infertility. Being overweight or extremely underweight can cause infertility. Smoking and drinking large amounts of alcohol can contribute to problems with fertility. Being under a lot of stress can also have a negative affect on fertility.
Know the side effects of any medications you are taking. Certain medications such as for blood pressure may cause infertility. Medications taken in childhood such as chemotherapy for cancer treatment can also cause infertility in adulthood. Radiation therapy in the past can also lead to infertility.
Realize certain conditions may cause infertility. Often diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome and cystic fibrosis cause problems with fertility in men. Certain genetic conditions also cause infertility.
Get medical tests. You may not know for sure if you are infertile until medical tests are completed. A semen analysis in men will help confirm infertility. In women testing is more complex. Blood work to determine hormone levels may need to be done. A pelvic ultrasound may be performed to look for uterine fibroids and check the cervix and uterus for any abnormalities. The fallopian tubes can be checked to see if they are blocked, which could cause infertility.