When you and your partner decided it was finally time to start your family, you probably thought (or at least hoped) you’d be pregnant soon after you stopped using contraception. But while most couples believe they’ll be able to conceive with relative ease, reality can be quite different.
It takes at least six months of active trying for about 60% of couples to become pregnant, while for 15% of couples, the process takes up to a year. For the remaining 25% of couples, it takes over a year of active trying before pregnancy finally occurs.
Up to 15% of couples who take longer than a year to conceive experience some degree of infertility, which is defined as the inability to become pregnant following 12 months of regular, unprotected intercourse (or after just six months of trying if you’re past the age of 35).
If you’re under the age of 35 and haven’t been able to get pregnant for at least a year, or if you’re over the age 35 and haven’t conceived within six months, it may be time to get some help.
Here are some important things to consider when choosing the fertility treatment that’s best for you.
Begin with basic infertility testing
Before you can determine which fertility treatment protocol is going to help you the most, you have to find out what’s causing your problem. Basic infertility testing is designed to uncover the most likely factor or combination of factors that make it more difficult for you to become pregnant.
Many women can complete basic infertility testing within one or two menstrual cycles. The evaluation portion of the process goes over your medical and reproductive history in detail, including any chronic conditions you may have, the dates of your last six periods, any abnormal symptoms you experience during your menstrual cycle (such as heavy bleeding), and a list of any medications you (or your partner) take on a regular basis.
The physical portion of the process, which includes a pelvic exam and Pap smear, is designed to look for any specific health issues or gynecological factors that may be contributing to your problem. Depending on your unique case, you may undergo hormone testing, ovulation testing, or a diagnostic pelvic ultrasound to help pinpoint or rule out certain conditions or structural issues.
Understand your treatment options
Whether infertility testing determines there’s one factor or a combination of factors making it harder for you to become pregnant, it’s important to understand which treatments are most likely to help you overcome those obstacles.
For example, if you have a cervical abnormality that makes it more challenging for sperm to pass into your uterus, then artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), may drastically increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Artificial insemination is also a go-to treatment for many couples affected by low sperm count or other male-factor infertility issues.
If blood tests reveal that your reproductive hormones are off balance or in short supply, hormonal fertility medications that stimulate your ovaries to produce mature follicles can help foster normal ovulation. Ovarian stimulation can even be beneficial for women who experience irregular ovulation as a result of a gynecological condition like polycystic ovary syndrome.
If diagnostic tests show that a physical problem like uterine fibroids or blocked fallopian tubes are impacting your fertility, you may be able to correct the problem — and drastically improve your prospects of getting pregnant — through surgery.
Here at Rodeo Drive Women's Health Center, we like to stress the most straightforward treatment options first, because we know that about 90% of couples who are able to conceive have success with simple methods like artificial insemination, ovarian stimulation, and surgery, when needed.
Boost your chances of success
Once you’ve found a fertility plan that addresses your specific needs, keep in mind that certain lifestyle changes can increase your chances of getting pregnant as you go through treatment. This is especially true if you’re in your mid-30s or beyond, as the quality and quantity of your eggs continues to decline.
Eating a nutritious diet, staying active, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco are some of the most beneficial steps you can take toward maintaining and protecting your fertility.
If you’re underweight or overweight, achieving a healthy body weight is another way you can improve your chances of becoming pregnant. That’s because being either extremely lean or very heavy can reduce your circulating estrogen levels and disrupt normal ovulation. In fact, reaching a healthier body weight is all it takes to restore normal ovulation and make pregnancy possible for many women.
If you’d like to get to the root of your fertility problems and explore your treatment options, we’re ready to help. Call our office in Beverly Hills, California, or use our easy online booking tool to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced fertility specialists.