6 signs you might be struggling with infertility

Mar 14, 2016 at 4:40 p.m. ET
Image: Ilarialuciani

When the baby itch starts, that old playground jingle, “First comes love, then comes marriage [maybe], then comes a baby in the baby carriage,” might be swirling around your mind. Perhaps you’re getting busy with procreation but are wondering how you know if you might be experiencing issues creating a healthy, happy baby? 

The statistics can be overwhelming. Up until 2013, the data stated that one in eight couples is experiencing infertility. That same year, the National Institutes of Health conducted a study that shows an increase in that rate to one in six couples. These numbers were substantiated by data from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine journal Fertility and Sterility. A diagnosis of infertility is shared equality between men and women, with 20 percent classified as unknown.

More: What I wish someone had said to me when I struggled to conceive

How do you know if you are one of the one in six and if you should take action?

1. Happy Birthday! How old are you?

If you’re under 35, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after exposure to sperm for over a year. If you’re 35 or older and having well-timed intercourse, the timing is moved up to six months without conception.

2. Are things not happening despite regular intercourse timed to ovulation with kits or temperatures?

According to Dr. Paul Turek, founder and director of the Turek Clinic in Los Angeles and San Francisco, “Given that at least 30 percent of couple infertility is due to male factor and that male factor infertility is both faster and cheaper to evaluate than its female equivalent, it makes perfect medical sense to evaluate men right alongside the female partner.” This would involve a history, physical exam and two semen analyses to start. The latter examines the number (count) and movement (motility) of sperm.

More: 6 ways to make your IVF treatment more affordable

3. Does the male partner experience sexual dysfunction?

Since erection issues have been linked to the future development of heart disease, according to Turek, this seemingly innocent issue "might signal real underlying health issues in men and should trigger a referral to a urologist.” 

4. Healthy body = healthy baby

BMI (Body/Mass Index) and whether you are overweight or underweight play a factor in fertility. Moderation is key for procreation, and that includes food, caffeine and alcohol. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, begin acting as if you already are. Dr. Serena H. Chen, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Barnabas Medical Center, offers this powerful suggestion: “If you have concerns, talk to your GYN or consider seeing a fertility specialist — a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist. You may not have infertility, but you deserve a chance to have a conversation about your concerns with an expert. Remember, this is just a conversation. You do not have to do anything you do not want to do! So, don’t avoid seeing a doctor — become informed!”

5. Heartbreaking miscarriages

If you've experienced three pregnancy losses, consider booking a consultation with an infertility specialist. A reproductive endocrinologist could bring you peace. While the diagnosis of infertility is the inability to conceive, reoccurring miscarriage happens in 10–20 percent of pregnancies.

6. Inner whispering

We women have an inner sense that is in constant communication with us about our bodies, but we sometimes are not able to hear this inner nudging or dialogue, or we disregard the information.

If you have a feeling or sense about your fertility, if you hear an inner voice saying check into your health, please heed it. Advocate for your reproductive health because at the end of the day, no one knows what’s best for your body like you do.

Being informed and educated about your body is the most powerful step you can take to create a healthy, happy mind, body and soul. This, in turn, will have a ripple effect, sending peace of mind and health through your entire family, including your future baby!

More: Low-tech alternatives for infertility treatment

In addition to being an author, Kristen Darcy offers coaching services to individuals facing a divorce and those challenged with infertility. She speaks at workshops and conferences around the country. She has been highlighted in national publications and broadcast media, including NBC’s The Today ShowWoman’s World magazine, PBS’ "Health Week" and the Boston Globe. Darcy’s latest support offering is Divorcing with Grace, a downloadable MP3. In this informative program, she explains her brief but life-changing system that can be applied to any situation, whether it be divorce, infertility or simply a change in your life to help you embrace a new way of living within grace and from your heart.

6 signs you might be struggling with infertility
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