Getting Pregnant Should Be Easy, Right?

Submitted by: Barbara Faber, MD

Women get pregnant all the time without even trying and even when they are taking measures to prevent it.  But for some couples, it’s just not that easy.  In fact, knowing what I know, I wonder how it happens at all.  It’s complicated.  A lot of stuff has to go just right.

In fact, there is a sub-specialty in OB/GYN called ‘Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility’ dedicated to training doctors how to help patients conceive.  I’m a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist and I love my job.

This week is Infertility Awareness Week and I thought it would be a great time to put some helpful (hopefully!) information on our website.

Infertility is a medical condition with many causes, but the first step in getting help is to know when to ask for it.  The definition of infertility depends on your age.   If you want to conceive, and you are under the age of 35 and have been having regular intercourse for one year but no success yet, you should see a specialist to look for a reason.  This time frame shortens if you are 35 years or older to six months of trying without success.  That’s because options for successful treatment start to go down as a woman gets older.

Of course, there are exceptions to these guidelines and situations when you shouldn’t wait the one year or six months to come in.

If your periods are irregular which means you may not be producing an egg on a regular basis, then you should get some help sooner.  Also, if there is anything in your history that may make it harder to get pregnant such as history of a significant infection involving your pelvic organs or a diagnosis or concern that you have endometriosis, you should come in sooner.

Also, we can’t forget how important sperm is to this process!   If your partner has any medical or surgical history that may affect sperm production or you’re not sure, it would be good to get it checked out.

I also recommend that if you are 38 or older, not to wait even for the six months of trying before seeing someone.  I think three months under this circumstance is a better guideline.

It’s also OK to do some basic tests for someone who is just concerned about their fertility.  I don’t have a crystal ball to be able to tell someone if they are able to conceive but it is reassuring when all the tests come back normal.

Difficulty conceiving is anxiety producing.  That’s for sure.  However, I have many women tell me they feel better once they take that first step and come in for an evaluation and eventually discuss treatment.   They feel more in control to have their questions answered and to have a plan.  Hope this helps!

~ Dr. Barbara Faber

Posted in: Gynecology, Infertility

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