Five Basic Things Every Couple Trying to Get Pregnant Should Know

When to Get Help and How to Make Choices from a Place of Empowerment

Couple holding hands, walking along a path in the country
When you're having trouble getting pregnant, the information and options out there can feel overwhelming. Try to take things one step at a time, together.. Dougal Waters / Digital Vision / Getty Images

When you’ve been trying to get pregnant for months, and nothing is happening, you can feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even a little frightened.

The wealth of information available online for couples trying to conceive is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because you can research just about every option, and get so much more information than your doctor has time to share with you.

But it can also be a bit of a curse, because you don’t know where to start.

Or what to read or try next. You also need to sort through the false and misleading advice online, and cautiously consider the products and services being marketed to the fertility challenged.

With that in mind, here are five basic things I want you to know.

I want you to know when – and how – to get the help you need.

Don’t delay getting help.

I know it’s scary, and I know you’d rather walk around “waiting for a miracle” than find out that something is seriously wrong.

But the longer you wait to get help, the less likely you’ll have successful treatment.

When should you get help?

If you’re over 35, you should see your doctor after six months of trying to conceive.

If you’re younger than 35, you should get help after one year of trying to conceive.

If you experience two consecutive miscarriages, you should also get an evaluation.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of infertility, or have known risk factors for infertility, see your doctor whenever you decide you want to start having kids.

You don’t have to try for a year first!

Who should you talk to?

Women should speak to their gynecologist, and men should make an appointment with a urologist. (Yes, men also need to be evaluated! Doing things right away will save you valuable time.)

You may or may not need a fertility clinic, but if you do, these first line doctors will provide a referral.

I want you to know that you need to advocate for yourself.

It’s very easy (and common) for people to fall into a helpless mode when they struggle to get the help they need from their doctor.

I want to remind you that you are not helpless. You can and should fight to get the care you deserve!

Is your doctor not taking your concerns seriously? Telling you that you’re “too young” to have fertility problems? Telling you that you’re “too old” to bother getting help? Or “too fat?”

Then find a new doctor. At the very least, get a second opinion.

Do your fertility clinic’s recommendations seem too drastic for your situation? Do you feel they aren’t taking your care seriously? Are they repeating the same failed treatment protocol over and over again, instead of tweaking things to improve your odds of success?

Get a second opinion, or find a new fertility clinic.

Advocate for yourself.

Research your options and educate yourself. You can do this!

I want you to know that you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Really, nothing.

Infertility does not make you less than. You are no less of a woman and no less of a man than a fertile woman or man.

You are just as worthy of love and belonging as any other human being on this planet.

Don’t let your shame keep you from getting the help and support you need, whether from a doctor or from a loved one.

I want you to know that you are not alone.

Think back to your high school gym class. Let’s say you had 30 girls in your classroom.

Statistically speaking, between three and four of you will experience difficulty getting pregnant. But odds are that none of you will ever speak about it to each other.

You may feel alone, but really, you’re not.

In the United States, there are 6.7 million women of childbearing age who struggle with getting or staying pregnant.

Six-point-seven million.

Reach out for support!  And there is support out there, including support groups, therapists, and online communities for the fertility challenged.

Even your fertile friends and family members can support you, if you teach them how.

Don't forget about your doctor, too! Unsure about something you read online, or about advice someone gave you? Ask your doctor. They are there to help you!

Infertility isn’t easy, but getting through it can be easier when you have people to lean on.

I want you to know that you have many options, and only YOU get to decide which option is right for you.

I’m encouraging you to see your doctor as soon as possible so you can have more options, but only you decide which options to pursue.

You may decide after seeing your doctor to try for a little longer on your own, or you may decide to try fertility treatments right away.

You may decide oral medications like Clomid are as high tech as you want to go. You may decide you don’t want to use any fertility treatments at all.

You may decide adoption isn’t for you, and you only want to pursue parenthood via fertility treatment. You may decide you’d rather adopt than try IVF.

You may decide to stop trying after one year of treatment, or after five years of treatment, or only after your doctor or your bank account runs out of options for you.

Speaking of bank accounts, you also have many financial options. Thankfully, the great majority of fertility challenged couples will not need expensive fertility treatments, but if you do need them, there are a variety of ways to pay for them.

Only you can decide what your spending limit is. And, of course, you can also choose not to spend thousands on fertility treatment.

Bottom line: I want you to know you have choices.

It does you no emotional good to tell yourself you only have one option. For example, don’t tell yourself that IVF is your only option, even if that is the only medical way you can conceive. Because you can also choose not to pursue treatments at all.

I realize that doesn’t feel like a choice, but it is a choice.

Only when you recognize you’re making a choice can you come from a place of empowerment and strength. Only when you consciously choose what to do can you recognize there is life after (and beyond) infertility.

And there is life after infertility. I promise.

More basic things you should know:


FastStats: Infertility. Center for Disease Control. Accessed on April 25, 2014.

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