There are very few things in life modern medicine cannot predict. But one of the very last mysteries of this world is figuring out whether or not we can conceive – or how easily it may happen.
As any young woman knows, there is a certain element of doubt when it comes to your own fertility.
Many of us like to think that at some stage in our life, when we’re good and ready, we’ll have kids. A complication-free pregnancy and a couple more kids to boot. But how can we ever truly know?
There are actually are a few signals our body can give us that indicate fertility issues. It must be said that none of these symptoms are absolute proof of infertility. They are simply irregularities that are worth noting when it comes to your body.
Here’s what to keep your eye on when understanding your fertility.
A period that is infrequent, too frequent, or an odd length (too long, or too short) can be a warning sign that something isn’t right.
Dr Jason Franasiak, an obstetrician and gynecologist says that your period is one of the best indicators of a healthy reproductive system.“Irregular periods or absent periods represent the fact that at some level an issue with regularly producing an egg and that can be a clear cause of infertility.” he says.
The facts on fertility. (Post continues after post)
Similarly, if you are experiencing extreme pain or an unusually heavy period, it can also be a sign that something is wrong.
“Longer cycles are caused by a lack of regular ovulation,” explains fertility expert Dr Stephanie Beall.
“During a normal cycle, it is the fall of progesterone that brings upon bleeding. If a follicle does not mature and ovulate, progesterone is never released and the lining of the uterus continues to build in response to estrogen.
Eventually, the lining gets so thick that it becomes unstable and, like a tower of blocks, eventually falls and bleeding occurs. This bleeding can be unpredictable, and often very heavy and lasting a prolonged period of time.” (Post continues after gallery.)
Your sex life.
Painful sex or a complete lack of libido can also indicate that something is amiss. An abnormally low sex drive – as compared to what is normal for YOU – could potentially point to a hormone imbalance.
Vaginal dryness is due to a lack of estrogen – and low estrogen can somtimes mean early onset menopause.
But, according to Dr Mary Stewart, Senior Medical Officer, Research & Education, Family Planning NSW, libido is a complex multi-faceted issue.
“While there may be an association between hormonal dysfunction, infertility and low libido this is a complex area and it would be useful to talk to your doctor about changes you are experiencing. Painful sex can have many causes, some of which may be associated with lower fertility such as endometriosis or premature ovarian insufficiency causing low oestrogen and changes to the vaginal and vulval tissues – again do see your doctor if you have any concerns.”
Your body hair.
Excessive body hair around the face (especially around the top lip) or on the rest of your body is symptomatic of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and could mean a hormone imbalance that will affect your chances of falling pregnant.
On the other hand, thinning hair or baldness is another red flag to hormone problems, but this time with your thyroid. Hyperthyroidism will affect your menstrual balance and will often bear with it fatigue, bad skin, and weight loss.
According to Dr Stewart: “Women who have symptoms of thyroid dysfunction should have thyroid function tests done. Women with thyroid problems can have problems with fertility so if you have concerns talk with your doctor.”
Being extremely overweight or extremely underweight could affect your chances of falling pregnant in the first place. But if you have noticed a strange weight gain along with any of the other symptoms mentioned above, it could be related to a hormone imbalance.
“I like to describe a woman’s ovulatory cycle as a ‘hormonal symphony’,” says Dr. Laura Lefkowitz.
“It is a very delicate, subtle hormonal system, even the smallest changes in hormone fluctuations and timing can throw off the entire cycle and block the release of an egg to be fertilized. In order to get pregnant without fertility problems, everything has to be timed right, as there is a very short window of opportunity to actually conceive. If you now throw in irregular periods, people don’t even know when or if they are ovulating, making conception even more improbable.”
Your bowel movements.
As we all know, our bowel movements can become slightly, erm, disrupted around the time of our period. But if this is a consistent problem, it could be the sign of something bigger.
Lower back pain and loosened stools can be signs of Luteal Phase Defect – when your uterus is unable to grow a proper lining during your menstrual cycle each month. LPD is a leading cause of infertility.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, make sure you visit your doctor. They will always be the best source of information when it comes to you, your body, and your fertility.