Our ‘Fertility Journey’ survey revealed there is considerable confusion over how long you should ‘try’ for a baby before acknowledging that you may have an issue – with many people in their twenties saying they were told “to go away and it would happen given more time”.
If you have decided that you want to start a family there are many ways that you can boost your natural fertility, and the earlier you start the better. But equally if you have blocked tubes or no sperm then waiting isn’t going to help you get pregnant.
On average 80% of couples will get pregnant within a year if they have sexual intercourse every two to three days and do not use contraception, so couples that are unsuccessful after two years should seek help.
GPs can’t be expected to be experts in everything so we suggest a teamwork approach and that you explore the following questions together.
Five questions to ask your GP about infertility
1. We have been together for three years without using contraception and have been trying for a baby for one year – is there a difficulty?
(The answer is most likely yes; most couples wrongly consider the period of ‘trying hard’ as the duration of infertility and may not give their previous history.)
2. If all our tests are normal, is it possible we may still need fertility treatment?
(The answer may be yes; the causes for one third of all cases of infertility are unexplained.)
3. If I delay getting treatment now will my egg store decrease?
(Perhaps; the basic tests may not include ovarian reserve testing, which is an indication of egg store, and even if tests indicate that the egg store is good it does not predict future fertility.)
4. If my sperm analysis is poor is there anything I could do to improve the situation?
(Potentially; lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, reducing alcohol and enhancing nutrition with selected supplements can improve sperm quality.)
5. I am 42 years old, fit, healthy and ovulating every month, so should I be reassured about my fertility?
(The answer is no; although it is possible to get pregnant naturally at 40 the egg store will have been decreasing rapidly since the age of 35. This doesn’t mean that IVF is necessary but fertility options should be discussed with a specialist.)