At first, it was a few months of not preventing, not really trying. Then, you may have started using the calendar to track ovulation cycles and time intercourse. Eventually, you tried some combination of ovulation predictor kits, checking basal body temperature or testing cervical mucus to predict ovulation.
You are getting frustrated. Your partner is beyond exhausted. Sex is scheduled and regimented, and almost never enjoyable anymore. Meanwhile, it seems like every woman of childbearing age is sporting a baby bump. The thought has crossed your mind more than once: maybe we just can’t conceive.
When should I talk to my doctor about infertility?
Of course, you should call your doctor’s office any time you have a question. As soon as you suspect infertility, you are welcome to discuss it with your care provider.
Know that it is common for hopeful couples to worry too soon. Baby-making takes time, longer as age increases. A couple is considered infertile once they have been consistently yet unsuccessfully trying to conceive for a year or more.
Infertility can be identified in some couples as early as six months of unsuccessful attempts, depending on medical history. It never hurts to bring your questions to your doctor’s office.
Has it been a year? Don’t panic.
Just about everyone knows someone who struggles with infertility. About 10 percent of women of childbearing age have trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Up to 90% of all cases of infertility can be resolved with safe and effective medical treatment. Often, treatment is as non-invasive as a course of medication, but in rare cases, the problem can only be corrected through surgery. The good news is, the vast majority of infertility cases are treatable.
Make an appointment with your ob/gyn.
Your doctor will assess the methods you have been using to try to conceive. You will discuss things like your menstrual cycle, signs or tests you have been using to predict ovulation, and timing of intercourse. You may also discuss lifestyle and health habits that may be negatively affecting fertility. It may stop there, and you and your provider may change your strategy.
If warranted, your gynecologist may order any number of fertility tests. You can likely expect ovulation testing, a blood test to see whether your body releases eggs. Also common are hormone tests that show whether or not various endocrine functions are working against fertility. Pelvic ultrasounds or x-rays provide information about reproductive anatomy, if your doctor suspects obstructions or malformations. Ovarian reserve testing may be conducted to gather information about availability of eggs.
Plan to get your partner tested, too.
About a third of infertility problems can be attributed to the woman, and another third can be attributed to the man. The remaining third of fertility problems are of unknown cause or result from some incompatibility between sperm and egg.
Testing for male infertility involves any combination of semen analysis to examine sperm count and motility, blood hormone analysis for testosterone levels, ultrasound, or genetic testing.
It is important to involve your doctor or midwife any time concerns arise, so open up the discussion early. Even if it is not time to act, he or she can ease your worries and offer a course of action that will maximize your chances of conceiving. The first step to parenthood could be just a phone call away.