It is estimated that one in six couples are affected by infertility. This means that some people you know and love will most likely have a fertility problem at some point. Infertility can be deﬁned as the inability to conceive after 12 or more months of unprotected intercourse.
But, knowing when it’s time to visit a fertility specialist can be tricky. Fortunately, there are certain signs you can watch for that will help you determine if you should see a fertility doctor.
You’re under age 35 and you’ve tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for 6 to 12 months
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), couples should be able to get pregnant within six months if they’re having regular unprotected sex without birth control.
If you’re under 35 and have had regular periods for at least 12 months without becoming pregnant, talk to an OB/GYN about how best to proceed. He or she may recommend clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or letrozole (Femara), medications that stimulate ovulation in women who don’t ovulate regularly on their own.
These drugs can cause side effects such as headaches and nausea.
You’re over 35, and you’ve tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for 3 to 6 months
You’re over age 35 and have been trying for six months or longer.
For most women under 40, fertility begins declining between ages 30 and 35 (though this varies by individual). This is because their hormones begin to ﬂuctuate more signiﬁcantly than they did when they were younger.
At that point, there’s an increasing chance that it will be difﬁcult for a couple to conceive naturally. So if you’re older than 35 but younger than 40 — or even earlier if your menstrual cycles have become irregular — talk with your doctor about whether testing may be helpful now rather than later.
You have irregular or no periods.
Irregular periods can be caused by a number of things, including stress, weight ﬂuctuations, hormone imbalances and even pregnancy.
If you’re concerned about missing your period because it hasn’t come for longer than three months, talk to your primary care physician or OB/GYN about what might be causing the issue.
You may just need some lifestyle changes or medication adjustments — but if you don’t get your period back within six months of stopping birth control
pills (or three months if using an intrauterine device), then see your doctor right away.
Diagnosis of a fertility concern in either partner.
If either you or your partner has been diagnosed with a condition or problem that could be affecting your ability to conceive, such as male factor infertility or PCOS, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your options for treatment.
Your doctor may recommend seeing a fertility specialist if you have trouble getting pregnant due to male infertility or female infertility. Your partner may have low sperm count or low sperm motility (movement). He may also have abnormal sperm shape and structure, which can cause infertility in men.
These are just some examples of common male infertility concerns.
Likewise, women might have issues with ovulation or fallopian tubes that prevent them from getting pregnant easily. If either one of these conditions is diagnosed in either partner, it’s best to look into treatment options as soon as possible.
Your specialist may recommend starting with some basic treatments before moving on to more advanced treatments like IVF or IUI if necessary.
It’s important to recognize these symptoms that may be a cause for concern, so that you can act accordingly in order to ensure the health of your infertility.
It’s typical to feel frustrated and uncertain when faced with unexpected challenges, but there are fertility specialists who can help walk you through the process—and hopefully get you on the path towards achieving the family your heart desires.