If you are having trouble getting pregnant, you might wonder when it’s time to see a fertility specialist. Generally speaking, infertility is described as the inability to conceive after 12 months of having unprotected sex regularly. For older women (usually over age 35), seeking the advice of a fertility specialist is usually recommended after 6 months of trying without success.
Getting Pregnant: What’s Considered Normal?
Most couples will conceive within the first year of having unprotected sex, while a smaller percentage will conceive in the second year. Couples who do not conceive during the first 12 months are described as having fertility issues and should then consider seeing a specialist. Some patients will conceive during the second year, though this only accounts for roughly 7% of live births.
What Factors Can Affect How Long It Takes To Get Pregnant?
There are a number of factors that affect your ability to get pregnant. Age, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, anatomical abnormalities, and male infertility can all affect fertility.
Age is the biggest factor that affects fertility in women. A woman has her complete complement of eggs at birth, and the initial amount varies widely. After menstruation begins, a woman loses eggs each month. Therefore, as a woman ages, her store of eggs diminishes. Also, the egg quality decreases with age. This decrease in both supply and quality can affect fertility.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and other endocrine disorders often affect fertility. PCOS may alter monthly periods (some women with PCOS do not get regular periods) and influence pregnancy hormones.
Endometriosis is another condition that can affect fertility. This is when endometrial tissue occurs outside the uterus. It can cause painful periods and sometimes blocks the fallopian tubes.
Anatomical disorders include blocked tubes or uterine structural issues that may be genetic (bicornuate uterus) or from uterine fibroids. If fallopian tubes are blocked, eggs cannot reach the uterus to be fertilized by sperm. Uterine abnormalities can lead to infertility by making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
Male infertility can affect your ability to get pregnant, too. There may be a complete absence of sperm (azoospermia) or problems with shape, motility or quantity of sperm. A semen analysis will help determine if male infertility is a factor for you.
Sometimes, you may be able to get pregnant, but the pregnancy does not last. This is called recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). There are many reasons this may occur, but a fertility specialist is often able to diagnosis the cause and develop a plan of action to achieve a successful pregnancy.
What if You Have Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is difficulty getting pregnant after already having a baby. If you already have children but are having problems conceiving, you should seek a consultation with a specialist after six months.
If you are ready to begin your fertility treatment and would like to learn more about Dr. Levi and the Park Avenue Fertility approach to fertility and wellness, contact us to schedule a visit today.