When Should You Seek Fertility Help?

How Long You Should Try to Get Pregnant + When to Get Help Sooner

Doctor with embracing couple, feeling hopeful after talking to their doctor about getting pregnant
Don't put off seeking help for your fertility. The sooner you get help, the better chance that you'll get pregnant with fertility treatments.. Jupiterimages / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Getting pregnant isn’t always easy. For how long should you try to get pregnant? When should you keep going on your own, and when should you seek fertility help?

While it’s easy to become impatient if you don’t get pregnant right away, you don’t need to put off finding help if any of the following fits your situation.

Recommended Time to Try Getting Pregnant

According to the American Association of Reproductive Medicine, if a couple has not achieved pregnancy after one year of unprotected sex, they should seek professional help getting pregnant.

However, if the woman is over age 35, she shouldn’t wait so long.

In this case, it's recommended that she seek help getting pregnant after just six months of unprotected sex.

Despite these suggested time frames, some couples try without help longer than they need to.

An informal survey conducted jointly by Conceive Magazine and Fertility LifeLines, found that 62% of the women surveyed had been trying to get pregnant for over a year.

However, only two-thirds of the group had started seeking help. Almost one-third were still waiting to seek help getting pregnant.

Why the couples hadn’t sought help is anybody’s guess. One possibility is that they didn’t know about the one year time frame. These couples who were still waiting may think it’s normal to take longer than a year.

Another possibility is that they aren’t interested in pursuing fertility treatments yet.

If you’re young, waiting to start fertility treatments until you’re ready isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, even if you’re not ready to seek treatment, seeing a doctor for some general testing is recommended.

Infertility can be a symptom of an underlying medical problem. Whether or not you plan on starting fertility treatments, you still might want to seek an evaluation from your doctor, just in case something more serious needs to be addressed.

Reasons to Seek Fertility Help Sooner

If you or your partner have any risk factors or symptoms of infertility, waiting to find help for getting pregnant isn’t necessary.

For example, if a woman has irregular periods, endometriosis, or PCOS, or if either partner has a history of sexually transmitted diseases, seeking help right away makes sense.

Also, if you have two miscarriages in a row, you should ask for a fertility evaluation.

Fertility symptoms quizzes:

What if You Don't Want to Wait? How to Get Help Faster

If you really don’t want to wait a year before seeking help, but you don’t have any particular symptoms, you can try body basal temperature charting.

By charting your cycles, you may discover that you’re not ovulating regularly, or that your luteal phase isn’t long enough to sustain a pregnancy.

There’s no reason to keep trying without help if you discover these problems.

Also, some doctors will consider testing for problems before a year is over if a couple has charted body basal temperature for six-months, even if no problems are clear on the chart.

If by charting you can show your doctor that you’ve had sex at the right time of the month for six months, and you still are not pregnant, he or she may be willing to investigate.

Are You 40 Years Old? Talk to Your Doctor Now

If you're 39 or 40 years old, and just starting to try and conceive, it's worth seeing your doctor now.

They may be willing to check your FSH or AMH levels, or do some very basic fertility testing.

They may also tell you to just try for awhile and then come back if you don't conceive... but when you're pushing 40 years old, it's better to talk to your doctor sooner than later.

Who Should You Talk To and What Happens Next

Do you need to find a fertility clinic right away? Or can you talk to your gynecologist?

Unless you have a history of infertility and an established relationship with a fertility doctor, the first person you should see is your gynecologist. Your partner should see a urologist to have his fertility tested.

Your gynecologist may be able to treat you if your case seems simple, or she may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist.

Your gynecologist or fertility doctor will run some basic fertility tests. Then, they will recommend treatment options.

Your job is to educate yourself, so you can make informed decisions. Don't be afraid to ask questions!

Sources:

Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed January 21, 2008. http://asrm.org/awards/index.aspx?id=3012

Women Want to Know More About Infertility According to Recent Survey. PR NewsWire. Accessed June 12, 2008.

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