Many things can affect your fertility – disease, lifestyle, exposure to certain toxins, heredity, long-term health conditions.
Looking after your body and being wary of any signs or symptoms and knowing when to see a doctor is incredibly important.
Here are a few health conditions that, if left undiagnosed and untreated, could affect your fertility…
A collection of uterine cell tissue that forms for unknown reasons – fibroids are most likely to impact fertility when they grow inside the uterine cavity, distorting its shape and size.
Fibroids that grow in the uterine wall or outside the uterus have little effect on your ability to conceive. Up to 80% of women will have fibroids in their lifetime. Fibroid clusters that impair fertility can be removed by a surgeon and studies have indicated a woman's fertility increases 70% after fibroid removal.
The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying the bladder
- Backache or leg pain
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID occurs when bacteria move from the vagina to the upper reproductive tract, causing infection. STIs are the leading cause of PID but there are other less common causes too – such as complications from the insertion of an intrauterine device or even douching.
Up to 15% of women with PID become infertile, but there are ways you can reduce your risk. For example, reducing your number of sexual partners and practising safe sex. It's also important that if you do have any symptoms of PID you see your doctor right away – the earlier it's treated, the less damage it does to your organs and the less likely it'll interfere with your fertility.
Symptoms of PID include:
- Pain in the lower and/or upper abdomen
- Painful sex
- Painful urination
- Irregular bleeding
- Increased vaginal discharge
If you're severely overweight and you're not doing anything about it, or you're unaware you're carrying a couple of extra pounds then this will directly impact your ability to conceive. Studies show that women who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 35 have decreased fertility, even if their cycles are regular.
The good news though – if you're obese and you manage to lose even 10% of your body weight, this will give your fertility a huge boost.
In a similar way to being overweight, being underweight can completely mess with your hormones. If your BMI is less than 20 and you don’t ovulate regularly, you’ll severely reduce your chance of conceiving.
If you are extremely underweight, you might never resume a regular menstrual cycle again, so it's incredibly important that you stay within a healthy BMI range.
Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity, creating scar tissue that makes it difficult for the fallopian tubes to pick up and move an egg to the uterus.
Endometriosis can cause pelvic inflammation, making the uterine cavity a less hospitable place for a fertilised egg to implant. You can read more about endometriosis and its effect on fertility in our post here.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Painful bowel movements or urination
- Abnormal or heavy bleeding during periods
- Painful sex
Want to learn more about what symptoms could signal a fertility problem? Take a look at our eBook, Common Signs of Inertility.