Infertility can be a scary word. Many people spend a large portion of their lives thinking about how not to get pregnant, then once it comes time to try and get pregnant, it’s a shock when it doesn’t happen immediately. At Pearl, we know trying to conceive can be both a joyful and anxiety-ridden time in your life. Not getting the results you want right away can be stressful and frustrating. We want to help you decipher what’s normal, and when it might be time to seek an expert opinion.
How long does it typically take to get pregnant?
Getting pregnant is not as easy as we were all led to believe. A healthy woman in her 20s or early 30s only has about a 20% chance of conceiving each month, according to https://www.womenshealth.gov/. For healthy women under the age of 35, it can actually be completely normal for it to take up to a year of trying before getting pregnant. If you’re trying to get pregnant and don’t right away, the nonstop social media pregnancy announcements and baby showers might make you feel like you’re completely alone. You definitely aren’t alone. Out of 100 women trying each month, only 20 will get pregnant and 80 will not.
What is infertility?
Infertility depends on a number of factors, but is generally defined as not being able to get pregnant after trying for one year. Infertility is thought to affect 15% of couples globally from a combination of female infertility, male factor infertility, both or unexplained. If you’ve been trying for over a year without success, it might be a good idea to see a fertility specialist called a reproductive endocrinologist to see if there is anything preventing you from conceiving.
There are a number of other reasons you may want to think about seeing a doctor to discuss your fertility prior to trying for a year.
If you’re over 35 years old and have been trying for 6 months or longer.
Fertility is highly dependent on age. Fertility begins to decline in your 30s, especially after age 35. This does not mean you can’t get pregnant after the age of 35 or even 40. But it does mean you should see a doctor a bit earlier than people who are younger. If you’re over the age of 35, it’s recommended you see a doctor after only six months of trying. By the age of 40, you have about a 5-10% chance of getting pregnant and may want to see a doctor as soon as you make the decision to become a parent.
If you have irregular periods.
The average menstrual cycle is about 21-35 days, starting on the first day of your period and ending on the last day before your next period begins. An irregular period is one that is much longer or shorter than the average. An irregular period may also be unpredictable meaning you never know when it will come or it doesn’t come at all.
You can still get pregnant with irregular periods, but it may be harder to know when you are ovulating or you may not be ovulating at all. It’s a good idea to check in with a doctor to ensure you are ovulating each month and see if there are any underlying conditions that may be causing your irregular periods.
If you have been diagnosed with a condition that you know affects your fertility
If you already know you have a condition such as PCOS or endometriosis, you may have a more difficult time getting pregnant. You may want to see a specialist sooner rather than later to help improve your chances of getting pregnant.
If you have a history of a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
If you’ve ever been diagnosed with an STD, you may be at higher risk for infertility. Certain STDs can cause permanent damage to the reproductive tract and lead to disease in the Fallopian tubes in women. If you or your partner have a history of STD, you can check in with your OBGYN to make sure you are healthy and able to conceive.
If you have concerns about your fertility or are just curious
There’s no harm in checking in with a doctor! It’s the same as going to your regular doctor for health checkups, but this time to look specifically at the health of your reproductive system. As mentioned earlier, fertility declines with age so you can never check in too early. Whether you want to start a family now, put off family building for a while, or just aren’t sure, it’s a great idea to have a health workup and know if you need to make any changes.
So what are my next steps?
If any of the above scenarios apply to you, don’t worry. There are tons of options out there for you to build your family whatever that looks like. The sooner you act, the more options will be available to you. So, start by finding a doctor in your area. If you’re in the U.S, you can check https://www.sartcorsonline.com/members/Search to search for a reproductive endocrinologist.
You’ll want to call the clinic to set up an appointment. This can be very nerve racking but after sitting down with your doctor and doing some diagnostic tests, you’ll have a much better picture of your health and if you need to take any next steps. Your path to building a family may not look exactly like you planned it, but will be beautiful in it’s own unique way.
Want tips for improving your fertility? Check out our blog posts "How to Prepare for Pregnancy" for more tips to help you conceive