If the months are drifting by without a sign that you’ve made that longed-for baby, you may begin to wonder if there’s a fertility problem.
Try not to be anxious. The time it takes to conceive varies a great deal. Even if all is well, you have only a 20 per cent to 25 per cent chance of getting pregnant each month.
That said, your age does make a difference. If you and your partner are in your early 20s, you should expect success within about five months. If you’re over 35, keep trying, but see your Doctor sooner rather than later if you think you may need help to conceive.
Getting pregnant is not entirely down to luck. Try to have sex every two or three days and learn to spot the signs that you’re in your fertile window.
If you feel you’ve already taken all the advice and done the waiting, see your doctor. Infertility affects about 15 per cent of couples at some point. But even if you turn out to be one of these couples, it doesn’t mean you will never have a baby. You may just need more time or medical help to conceive.
Is There A Reason Why I May Be Infertile?
Once you’ve set your heart on having a baby, having trouble conceiving can be hard to come to terms with.
It’s normal to fear that there must be “something wrong” with you or your partner. Because infertility is a shared experience, it may not be helpful to see it that way. As it happens, fertility problems affect men and women roughly equally.
But that’s not to shy away from the fact that there may be health issues affecting one of you that are interfering with baby-making.
You may be having fertility problems if:
- You have a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
- You have had pelvic or abdominal surgery, such as for appendicitis or an ovarian cyst.
- Your partner has had a hernia or testicular operation.
- You have irregular periods or painful periods
- You have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- You have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- You have endometriosis.
- You have fibroids.
- You have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past.
Even with some of these conditions, you’ll probably still be one of the 84 per cent of couples who conceives within 12 months. If you’re not, there’s still a good chance you’ll get pregnant the following year without needing medical help.
If you have had three or more miscarriages, you may want to talk to your doctor about trying for another baby.
Also see your doctor if you take medications that affect fertility. Some anti-inflammatories and antidepressants impair fertility. Most GP surgeries offer a preconception check-up, and this is just the sort of thing you can discuss then.
Apart from current or previous medical conditions, what you eat and your lifestyle may have some influence. Your fertility can be affected if you are:
- overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 29
- underweight, with a BMI of less than 19
- a smoker
Is There A Reason For Your Partner’s Infertility?
There may be clear reasons why your partner has fertility problems. If any of the following apply to him, do advise him to see his Doctor:
- Sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
- A lifelong illness such as diabetes, thyroid disease or heart disease.
- Infection with the mumps after puberty.
- Testicular tumours, cysts or cancer.
- Surgery in his groin or injury to his testicles.
- Problems getting or keeping an erection.
- Problems with ejaculating.
- Undescended testicles.
Your partner should also see his Doctor if he takes medications such as antihistamines, androgens or beta blockers.
If your partner has the rare genetic condition Klinefelter’s syndrome, he should see a doctor before trying to conceive. Klinefelter’s syndrome affects fertility, so you’ll both need to be referred to a specialist.
Just as with women, lifestyle factors can affect men’s fertility too. These are:
- Working in a hot environment or spending long periods sitting down. Either could result in your partner’s testes overheating.
- Working with chemicals or radiation.
- Being overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 29.
- Being a heavy smoker.
- Drinking heavily.
- Taking recreational drugs.
What Should You Do If You Suspect A Problem?
The best person to see first is your Doctor. Ideally, you and your partner should go together, as he is just as likely as you to need help.
Feel free to talk about your concerns or fears, no matter how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant.
If you have gained anything from reading this, don’t hesitate to share it with others too. Put your comments and questions or topics you will like us to write about in the comment box below.
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