Top Signs You're Having Trouble Getting Pregnant

May 19, 2022 5:19pm

What are the signs of not being able to have a baby?

What are the signs of not being able to have a baby? If you've been trying to get pregnant but can't, you might be wondering if something's wrong. Some signs of infertility are very obvious, many others are barely noticeable. Here's what to be on the look out for.

What are the signs of not being able to have a baby?Technically, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying to conceive. For those in the 35 years or older range, that definition drops dramatically to a narrow 6 month window. What are the signs of not being able to have a baby?

If you fall in this category, don't be alarmed but know that you should seek out a fertility clinic. For this, you can ask for a referral from your OBGYN or browse online for a reputable fertility doctor that is close to you. Your first appointment will offer a wealth of information about your body's level of fertility and what might be standing in the way of you getting pregnant.

Fertility, however, is not always such a black & white topic. On one hand, there’s going off birth control and waiting a while to see what happens. On the other hand, there’s couples who have been going through years and years of unsuccessful fertility treatment. Most couples fall somewhere in the ambiguous middle. Trying to conceive and patiently waiting until … how many months (or years!) has it been? If this sounds like you, hightail your eyes to the list of “Top 5 Signs of Infertility” below and get ready to take some action.

Top Signs of Infertility

1. You’ve been trying to get pregnant for 6 months or more with no luck

This is the big red flag, ladies. According to the CDC, “ infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex. Because fertility in women is known to decline steadily with age, some providers evaluate and treat women aged 35 years or older after 6 months of unprotected sex.”

While age is the biggest determining factor of a woman’s egg quantity & quality and thus, her fertility, it is not the only determining factor. That’s why we feel it is important to stress that any significant period of time spent trying to conceive unsuccessfully more than warrants a trip to a fertility clinic. Yes, even if you are a spritely 25 years old, underlying conditions could be at play.

2. Your periods are irregular

There are a number of different things that can cause irregular periods. One possibility is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can affect a woman's ability to ovulate. Long story short: If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant.

Another possibility is that you have a thyroid disorder. The thyroid is a gland in your neck that helps to regulate your metabolism. If it's not working properly, it can throw off your entire hormonal balance, which can lead to irregular periods.

Also commonly found in women having trouble conceiving is endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. This can cause infertility by blocking the fallopian tubes or interfering with implantation.

3. You suffer from heavy periods

Every woman has her own menstrual cycle, which is different from everyone else's. Menorrhagia, or heavy and prolonged menstruation that occur in a regular cycle, is a medical term for severe and continuous periods that follow a normal period.

The average duration of a woman's period is four to six days. During any cycle, most women lose between 25 and 80 milliliters (ml) of menstrual fluids. Menorrhagia is defined as having irregular or heavy periods that last beyond seven days in a typical cycle and shedding more than 80 ml of blood and related liquids. Menorrhagia in women 35 years of age or older is typically due to uterine disorders such as fibroids, polyps and adenomyosis (when the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus). However, other problems, such as uterine cancer, bleeding disorders, medication side effects and liver or kidney disease could be contributing factors.

Fibroids, in particular, are a relatively common uterine disorder that can cause infertility in women. These non-cancerous growths can develop in the wall of the uterus that range in size from very small to large, and while they typically don't cause any symptoms, they can sometimes lead to pain and heavy bleeding.

4. You have a sexually transmitted infection 

STDs often fly under the radar - especially if you have been a loyal partner. Nonetheless, they do exist and their most common symptoms can be easily written off. Do any of these apply to you? Itchiness and/or changes in vaginal discharge and soreness, pain or small bumps on the epidermis of the infected area.

Some sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can also manifest in irregular or heavy periods that, if not diagnosed in time, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease - a condition where female reproductive organs including the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and cervix are inflamed. This causes abdominal pain, vaginal discharge and even fever.

Also, is it possible that your male partner has a sexually transmitted disease? If you notice that his penis has unusual discharge, sores, redness or if he complains of pain during urination, you may be on to something. STDs in males can compromise the reproductive organs in males, impacting their normal activity, and lead to  low sperm count and/or quality. The only way to know for sure if you or your partner is free of STDs to pursue testing. This can be done at a local Planned Parenthood, at your doctor’s office or, for you, at your OBGYN. For those who prefer to test from the comfort of their own home, a number of at-home STD test kits are available on the market.

5. You are underweight/overweight 

Yes, there are plenty of women out there who are significantly underweight or overweight that have been able to get pregnant naturally. However, if you have been trying to conceive for months or longer with no luck, it might be time to hop on a scale.

Weight alone can be a determining factor. For women, a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 - 24.9 is considered optimum for fertility. To calculate yours, all you need is your height and weight.  Take your total weight in pounds and divide it by your height squared. Falling below the 18.5 marker? Too low a BMI can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to irregular or missed periods. Anovulation - the absence of ovulation - and Amenorrhea - the absence of menstruation - are more severe symptoms.

On the flip side, too high a BMI can also have a negative impact on fertility Although the relationship between being overweight and your ability to get pregnant is a highly-debated topic among fertility doctors, we do know for a fact that being overweight can significantly impact a woman’s hormones and thus her ovulation and egg development. 

Too many or too few pounds can also be a signal that something else is off internally and impacting your reproductive organs. If you think you might be restricting your calories, over indulging or suffering from an undiagnosed condition, all of these things could be impacting your chances of conceiving. Your best bet is to check with your OBGYN and/or make an appointment at a fertility clinic.

How can I tell if my husband is infertile?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive way to know whether your partner is fertile or not without having his sperm tested. (This, of course, barring any congenital health issues like Cystic Fibrosis, Klinefelter’s or Noonan Syndrome. On most if not all occasions, you and your spouse would be aware of their presence.)

Male factor infertility can be caused by a variety of factors, including low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or blockages in the reproductive tract. Treatment for male infertility typically involves fertility drugs or surgery to repair any blockages. In some cases, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may be used.

To test for male infertility, a doctor will typically order a semen analysis. This test measures the number and quality of a man's sperm. A healthy man should have at least 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. The sperm should also be of normal size and shape. If the sperm count is low or the sperm are abnormal, it may be difficult for the sperm to fertilize an egg. In some cases, a man may have no sperm at all. If your partner is reluctant to visit a doctor’s office to have his sperm tested, there are a number of mail-order tests on the market that he can take from the privacy of your own home.

What lifestyle factors can impact my ability to have a baby?

Stress and Infertility 

Despite being told to “just relax” over and over again, the academic connection between leading a high-stress lifestyle and not being able to get pregnant is not so clear cut. There are always exceptions to the rule - women with high-powered jobs, traveling frequently while dealing with trauma and turmoil on the home front - who are able to get pregnant. But the general consensus is that stress doesn't really help your situation. And, if anything, most people will agree that it does have a detrimental effect on fertility. The bottom line is that relaxing a bit won’t hurt. The Catch-22 is that telling a TTC woman to relax usually only stresses her out even more!