Deciding to start a family is an exciting and emotionally charged time, so when it doesn’t happen straight away, it can be very easy to become discouraged and concerned. If you’re struggling to become pregnant, know you’re not alone. Although many couples can conceive within the first year of trying, 20% can not. So, how long should you try to conceive on your own without medical intervention? At what point in your fertility journey should you see a doctor? In a society where infertility isn’t discussed freely, we lack a commonly-known answer to those questions. To help you determine if it’s time to intervene, we think it’s important to cover a few important facts about trying to conceive (TTC).
Many couples believe that if they stop preventing pregnancy, they will become pregnant. And for 40-60% of couples under age 30, that’s true within the first 3 months of trying. But for many others, becoming pregnant requires a little more effort than that. Here are some tips for being proactive in pre-pregnancy.
Know When You’re Ovulating
Without ovulation, unprotected sex cannot lead to pregnancy. Tracking your ovulation is critical to becoming pregnant. Ovulation predictor kits, fertility tracking apps, and natural prediction methods like the basal temperature method and cervical mucus method are all ways to track the best time to conceive.
Time It Right
Once you’ve determined when you’re ovulating, you can work around that schedule to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Having sexual intercourse on the days you are most fertile improves your odds of conceiving. Fertilization of the egg can occur as long as the sperm is alive inside the woman’s body (up to 5 days after intercourse). Knowing this can help you plan to have frequent unprotected sex during the week leading up to ovulation, the day of ovulation, and the day after ovulation –your most fertile times. If the sperm fails to connect with the egg, the lining of your uterus sheds (menstruation) and you just start the process all over again the next month.
Focus On Prenatal Health Before You Become Pregnant
Taking a prenatal vitamin that contains Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA before becoming pregnant helps to improve cervical mucus quality (necessary for sperm to reach the egg), promotes an ideal balance of reproductive hormones, and can also help to improve egg quality. Our Total Prenatal + DHA is an excellent choice with vegetarian DHA (from algae) for all the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids without the fishy taste or smell.
Take Supplements That Support Fertility
Fertility support supplements are available for both men and women. They work by increasing your body’s nutrients to help with fertility. Vitamins like D, folic acid, and zinc are critical for fertility health. Research has shown that women with a Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to experience infertility, less likely to conceive naturally or via IVF, and have a lower live-birth rate than women who had sufficient or higher levels of Vitamin D. Folic acid helps with ovulation and can increase pregnancy rates. While zinc not only regulates female hormone functions, it also increases sperm quality, density, and motility in men. Our Fertility Support supplements provide those essential vitamins and nutrients (and more) for fertility and conception.
When To Seek Medical Intervention
If you and your partner are both generally healthy, most doctors suggest you continue to have unprotected sex for one full year before seeking the help of a medical professional. If after one year of frequent, unprotected sex, you’re still unable to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term, it’s recommended you set up an appointment with your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) or a fertility specialist for further testing.
Does Age Play a Role?
As you age, the overall quality and number of eggs in your ovarian reserve naturally decrease. If you’re over the age of 35, it’s recommended you seek the help of a fertility doctor after six months of trying versus waiting out the full year.
There are additional factors that can affect your ability to conceive naturally and timely. If you experience any of the following, it may change or shorten your timeline from the general “one year until intervention” rule:
Multiple miscarriages- If you’ve experienced 3 or more miscarriages, you should be working with a fertility doctor on the next steps.
History of PCOS- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) interferes with the growth and release of your egg during ovulation.
Previous trauma to your reproductive organs- Scarring or blockage of the organs, tissues, or tubes will affect your ability to become pregnant naturally.
Being severely over or underweight- Weight plays a factor in your hormone production and hormone levels which can negatively impact your ability to ovulate regularly.
History of endometriosis- This can scar and create blockages in your fallopian tubes, blocking the sperm from effectively meeting the egg for fertilization naturally.
Erectile dysfunction- If your partner has trouble getting or maintaining an erection, you’ll want to see a fertility doctor much earlier in your pregnancy journey.
Irregular periods- Irregular periods due to stress or otherwise make tracking your ovulation and most fertile days all the more difficult.
History of sexually transmitted infections (STI)- Certain STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause damage, scarring, and inflammation to your reproductive organs which will prohibit you from getting pregnant naturally.
Chronic medical conditions- Diabetes, genetic disorders, heart conditions, thyroid conditions, kidney disease, and hypertension are just a few common chronic medical conditions that can negatively impact your ability to conceive a child naturally.
Family history of early menopause- If early menopause runs in your family, your doctor may request an early intervention before you stop ovulating and cannot conceive a child.
Learn more by reading on through:
What are the Main Ways to Treat Infertility?
Does Age Impact Female Fertility?
Understanding Oocyte Development for Fertility