A GUIDE TO FERTILITY

What are the signs and symptoms of infertility?

The most obvious sign of infertility is when the woman does not get pregnant, despite having regular unprotected sex for 12 months or more (or after six cycles of insemination for same-sex couples).

Once a woman has a regular (monthly) menstrual cycle, any change in
her menstrual cycle could indicate a problem. If her menstrual cycle becomes less regular, infrequent or absent then there could be a problem with ovulation. Heavier or more painful periods could be a sign of fibroids  in the womb or a condition called endometriosis. Pelvic pain could be a sign of infection or endometriosis.

There are few signs for male infertility. A man usually has to have medical tests to find out if he has a fertility problem. A man’s ability to have sex and ejaculate can be normal even if he has fertility problems. Men who have had mumps during puberty and men who have
an undescended testis (testicle) could be at risk of fertility problems. An undescended testis means that the testis is not located in the scrotum.

Some signs that could suggest a fertility problem

Bunting, L. & Boivin, J. (2010). Development and preliminary validation of the Fertility Status Awareness Tool: FertiSTAT. Human Reproduction, 25, 7, 1722–1733.

If you have noticed any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in graphic 5 or are concerned about your fertility, then talk to your doctor. The NHS ‘Fertility Self Assessment tool’ could also help you to decide if and when to seek help from your doctor. Fertility declines with age. Women aged 35 or older should seek help after 6 months of trying to get pregnant because if they need treatment then it is best not to delay.

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