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Recognising the Early Signs of Infertility in Women

Written byNikhil Ambatkar

Last updated on : 18 Mar, 2024

Read time : 7 min

Preparing for pregnancy can be thrilling, but it requires a lot of planning. It is essential to keep in mind your fertility levels and if you have any signs of infertility. Simply put, if you’ve been attempting to conceive (through regular, unprotected intercourse) for over a year without success, it’s essential to look into these matters.

What signs and symptoms should we look for regarding infertility in women, and how do we approach treatment?

Signs of female infertility

If you’re having difficulty conceiving, you’re far from alone. Globally, approximately 17% of couples face infertility issues. It may be hard to recognise infertility symptoms alone; however, some potential indicators may hint towards fertility-related issues.

1. Irregular menstrual cycle

The average menstrual cycle for a woman is usually 28 days in length. Nevertheless, if the cycle ranges from 21 to 35 days, it is still considered average as long as it is consistent. With irregular periods, it can be so unpredictable that it is impossible to predict when the next one will arrive.

Hormonal imbalances such as thyroid problems, high prolactin levels, and PCOS can cause infertility in women. Each of these conditions can interfere with a person’s ability to conceive. Hormonal imbalance is a significant cause of infertility in females. 

2. Heavy, long, or painful periods

A few women may only have a short duration of light menstrual bleeding, while others might deal with prolonged, heavy periods and unbearable cramps. These symptoms may indicate endometriosis, a disorder where the tissues usually found in the womb are located in other body parts. Endometriosis may interfere with the ability to conceive and carry a baby to term.

Endometriosis can cause more than just menstrual cramps; symptoms include persistent pelvic pain, discomfort during intercourse, backache, exhaustion, nausea, irregular menstrual cycles and occasional spotting, as well as difficulties with bowel movements.

3. Dark or pale menstrual blood

If you notice your menstrual blood is a lighter colour than usual, this could be a warning sign. Typically, a person’s period will start with a vivid red hue and then gradually become darker as the days go on.

If a person has extended menstrual flow accompanied by dark, aged blood at the commencement of their period, it could indicate endometriosis. If additional symptoms present, it is advisable to seek the counsel of a physician.

4. Pain during sex

Sex-related pain (dyspareunia) could indicate an underlying health concern causing infertility in women. Examples of those health issues include infections, endometriosis and fibroids.

5. Hormone changes

Hormones can cause shifts in the body that may go unnoticed. But, a medical professional can detect a hormonal imbalance in women and pinpoint their source through testing.

Changes in hormone levels may lead to various physical and emotional manifestations, such as weight gain without explanation, intense acne, coldness in extremities, lack of libido, discharge from the nipples, and even excess facial hair in women and thinning of the hair on the head. Observing signs of hormonal imbalance in women is essential to act early. 

6. Underlying medical conditions

Additional elements that could influence female infertility are:

  • Injury of the fallopian tubes or ovaries
  • Women experiencing menopause earlier than anticipated
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Endometriosis
  • Malignancies or therapies related to cancer.

7. Obesity

Studies have concluded that being overweight can detrimentally affect fertility. Women with obesity are less likely to become pregnant and are more prone to pregnancy-related complications when compared to those not battling weight issues.

8. Not getting pregnant

It is possible to be diagnosed with infertility if conception has not occurred after a set period. Generally, a woman under 35 may receive an infertility diagnosis if she hasn’t become pregnant after a year of attempting. 

However, a woman over 35 may be considered infertile if she hasn’t become pregnant after six months. In short, the primary indication of infertility could be an inability to conceive after a certain amount of time.

9. Additional contributing factors to infertility

In addition to medical issues, lifestyle choices can play a role in fertility for both genders; these include age, smoking, alcohol consumption, past sexually transmitted infections (STIs), anxiety, and inadequate nutrition.

10. Unexplained infertility in women

Sometimes, medical professionals cannot locate the source of infertility in women, even with the necessary fertility tests. Unexplained infertility is a reality for approximately 10 per cent of couples globally. That could be attributed to the egg not being discharged in the correct period, the egg’s incapability to reach the fallopian tube, or the sperm’s incapability to reach the egg.

11. When to consult a medical professional

Suppose you’ve been attempting to become pregnant for at least a year (or six months if you’re over 35) and are starting to notice signs of infertility. In that case, setting up an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist for a comprehensive assessment might be beneficial.

In some cases, minor lifestyle changes may be enough to enhance fertility; however, medical intervention may be necessary for more complex issues. Even with a diagnosis of infertility, there are still options to explore with a physician that may lead to a successful pregnancy.

Takeaway Message

If you’re struggling to get pregnant, you’re certainly not alone. Infertility in women can have many causes, such as imbalanced ovulation, uterine fibroids, blocked fallopian tubes, polycystic ovary syndrome, and endometriosis. Some common signs of infertility include irregular, too-heavy, non-existent periods, sudden weight gain, painful intercourse, and vaginal infections.

If you are experiencing any indicators of infertility, it is essential to consult a doctor who can assess the situation and offer the best treatment option. There are a variety of treatments that may help. Additionally, there are several valuable tips to help prepare for conceiving.

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Frequently asked questions

How do you test a woman’s fertility?

If you’re having difficulty conceiving, some medical tests, such as blood tests, urine tests, and imaging tests, can potentially be conducted to help uncover the cause. Your doctor may also suggest that you see a reproductive endocrinologist, who is a specialist in the field of infertility.

What is the biggest factor in female infertility?

In many instances, female infertility results from issues with ovulation. These ovulation problems symptoms include irregular periods, constant hair growth on different body parts, weight gain and acne. If ovulation is not occurring, eggs are unable to be fertilised. Women who may not ovulate regularly may experience irregular or nonexistent menstrual cycles. PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is often the source of such ovulation problems.

What decreases female fertility?

Excessive contact with specific environmental components, like insecticides and other toxins, as well as radiation, can have a damaging effect on fertility. Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using marijuana, taking anabolic steroids, and consuming medications to treat bacterial infections, hypertension, and depression harm reproductive health. The factors mentioned above may contribute to fertility issues in females.

When is a female most infertile?

As women enter their late 20s or early 30s, fertility levels naturally begin to decline, and this, unfortunately, accelerates after the age of 35. If they choose to put off having a baby until age 35, it’s essential to understand the risks involved and the available testing and treatment options. The success rates of infertility therapies should be taken into account.

What lifestyle factors affect fertility?

The decisions young people make regarding when to start a family, the overall quality of their diet, physical activity, mental health, and exposure to different elements may profoundly affect fertility. Unfortunately, smoking, taking illegal drugs, and drinking alcohol and caffeine can also have detrimental effects.

What are the signs of good fertility in females?

Signs of good fertility female include regular menstrual cycles, no medical history of pelvic infection, regular ovulation, no heavy periods, no smoking history, and overall good health.


The information given in this article is accurate to our best knowledge. Still, we recommend you consult your healthcare professional before taking any medication or dietary supplements mentioned in this article.


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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.


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