Fertility Problems and Treatment
When should I begin to suspect there is a problem?
For a couple trying to conceive, it can become hard not to obsess over when you are going to get pregnant. What often starts as a happy decision to stop using birth control and to 'see what happens' very often becomes 'project pregnancy' with sex being the most important (and frequent) activity scheduled in your calendar. Your social filters are on and everywhere you go you meet pregnant women bursting with excitement; you notice more adverts for pregnancy tests than ever before and the birth rate in your local town seems to have quadrupled. Even next door's cat starts to look pregnant from some angles.
For a healthy couple with no obvious problems who are having regular intercourse, it usually takes around 3 to 6 months to see a positive result on a pregnancy test, but it isn't unusual for it to take longer. Unless you have any specific health concerns, a GP is likely to send you home if you turn up looking for help before six months of trying.
It is advisable to make an appointment to see your GP if you have been trying for a baby for 12 months without success. If you are over the age of 35, you should go and see your GP after 6 months of trying. As obvious as it might sound, remember what 'trying' really means. You ought to be having sex every 2-3 days, if you're only doing it every couple of weeks then the GP may tell you to go away and try harder!
We have more information here about timing your sex lives around ovulation to maximise your chances of conceiving, but it is important to note that this kind of monitoring and calendar-watching can become unhealthy. NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) advises against this method of 'trying' to conceive because of the undue stress that it can cause.
In this section we look at the causes of infertility in men and women as well as how age can affect how likely you are to get pregnant without any problems.
Health and suspecting there is a problem
For a couple who are in good health, getting pregnant seems like a simple thing - and it often is. However, even good health is no assurance of becoming pregnant on the first attempt. If it takes longer than twelve months (or 6 months if you are over 35) then underlying problems in either the male or female (or both) may be to blame.
Conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or thyroid disease can make becoming pregnant more difficult. If you have these conditions, expect to try longer, but don't give up hope. Do seek treatment earlier if periods have been irregular, you've had more than one miscarriage, or if you feel generally unhealthy. A doctor needs to treat any underlying disorders for the sake of your own health and for the future pregnancy's health.
Timing and getting pregnant
No matter how much you'd like to have a baby, if the few days of fertility that you get each month also happen to coincide with the nights you're both working late or the football is on, you might find it harder to conceive. It is really important that you try not to get worried about conceiving. Scrap your expectations of having a baby 9 months from tomorrow. Assume that it will take several months to conceive (at least) and enjoy the excuse for lots of sex in the mean time. If you aim to have sex regularly (every 2-3 days) then it is likely that at some point the sperm will meet with the egg during the specific 'time window' needed for conception.
Find out when you are next ovulating:
However, circumstances often get in the way, so if a few months have passed and there are still no tell-tale signs of pregnancy, it may be time to get a little more organised about it. Tracking ovulation only takes a few minutes each day, and is fairly easy to do. Keep track of menstrual cycles and plan to have sex during the most fertile days - as well as on other occasions. It's important to keep sex from becoming a chore though; it should be enjoyable as well as functional!