If you’re having problems getting pregnant, you’re not alone. Here’s when help is recommended.
Deciding to get pregnant is a magical time in a couple’s life. Your hopes can dim if months go by and you’re not yet pregnant. Suddenly, you’re unsure why your body isn’t working like everyone else’s typically does. There are many reasons why getting pregnant is difficult, including:
- Aging eggs
- Early menopause
- Extreme stress
- Fallopian tube blockage
- Hormonal imbalance
- Medical illness
- Multiple miscarriages
- Premature ovarian failure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Sperm count is reduced
- Sperm are deformed or dysfunctional
- Thyroid dysfunction
You’re most fertile in your 20s. That means you have plenty of eggs in good condition for conception. You’re born with about 1 to 2 million eggs. You only release about 300 during your reproductive years. If you’re over 35, you’re more at risk for many of the above factors.
How long to try before talking to your doctor
Most fertile couples take between one to six months to get pregnant. Others take up to 12 months, according to a study in the journal Human Reproduction. Follow these general guidelines to decide when to consult a fertility specialist who can help you figure out treatments:
- You’re under 35 years old and not pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse.
- You’re over 35 years old and not pregnant after six months of unprotected intercourse.
- You’re over 40 years old and may need immediate fertility treatments to become pregnant.
In addition, if you’ve had three or more miscarriages, talk to a fertility doctor. If you’ve had any type of pelvic inflammatory disease, it’s another good reason to make an appointment with a specialist.
Symptoms of infertility
The biggest sign of infertility is that you’re not pregnant. Your period may suddenly stop. It could be extremely heavy, light or painful. You may have symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Signs include weight gain, dark facial hair growth and a decreased sex drive. You might have back or pelvic pain because of endometriosis or tumors. If you’re male, you may see changes in your testicles, a lower sex drive and problems with erections. If you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor.
Women should see a gynecologist or a fertility specialist. Urologists test men for infertility problems. A doctor may recommend that a woman have any number of these fertility evaluations:
- Cervical mucus tests, which observe whether or not sperm can penetrate and survive in your cervical mucus
- Endometrial biopsy, which evaluates the condition and thickness of your uterine lining
- Hormone tests, which test several hormone levels in your blood
- Hysterosalpingogram, which takes pictures of your uterus and fallopian tubes to find blockages
- Hysteroscopy, which lets a doctor take photos of abnormal features in your uterus
- Laparoscopy, which looks at the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries
- Ovulation evaluation, which tests if your body is releasing eggs properly
- Ultrasound tests, which measure the thickness of your uterine lining
Infertility affects an estimated 6 million American couples, so if you think you’re infertile, you’re not alone. There are several options you can explore with your doctor, who can work with you to discuss the details of your specific situation and needs.
Find out more about how to handle fertility challenges. Visit Mercy.com to connect with a caring, compassionate physician near you.