Are You a Heterosexual Couple Trying to Conceive?

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Introduction 

Whether you have just started thinking about having a baby or have been trying to conceive for a while, the information available on understanding your concerns can often be confusing. In this simple guide below we've tried to make it a little easier. 

Infertility

Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a year. 

Most couples (approximately 85%) will achieve pregnancy within one year of trying, however some will not. We generally recommend seeking the help of a Fertility Specialist if conception has not occurred after a year of trying regularly.

Infertility causes can affect one or both partners. In general:

  • In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the male.

  • In about one-third of cases, there is an issue with the female.

  • In the remaining cases, there are issues with both the male and female, or no cause can be identified (unexplained infertility).

Age

It can be difficult to know when to visit a specialist to seek infertility treatment, as this can often depend on the individual but one of the most important factors in determining when is right to get support, is age.

The ages and lengths of time trying to conceive before visiting a specialist are shown below:

  • Women under 35 - 1 year without success

  • Women 35 - 39 - six months without success

  • Over 40 - as soon as possible

However, there are various scenarios where one may be advised to seek help earlier. These include:

  • Infrequent or irregular menstrual periods: If a woman has cycles at intervals of greater than 35 days, it may indicate that she is not ovulating regularly, or even at all. Therefore, we recommend an evaluation if menstrual cycles are infrequent or irregular in a couple attempting pregnancy.
  • A history of pelvic infections or sexually transmitted diseases: Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, can cause inflammation and permanent scarring of the fallopian tubes in women and a decrease in quality and motility of the sperm in the men. We recommend immediate evaluation for a couple attempting pregnancy when either partner has a prior history of pelvic infection.
  • Known uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps: Uterine abnormalities, such as fibroids that indent the endometrial cavity and endometrial polyps, can impair how the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and embryo interact and reduce implantation and pregnancy rates. These abnormalities can also cause irregular bleeding between menstrual cycles. Evaluation should be pursued after 6 months of trying to achieve a pregnancy in women with a known history of these abnormalities or a history of bleeding between menstrual cycles.
  • Known male factor semen abnormalities: If a male partner has a history of infertility with a prior partner, then we advise earlier fertility evaluation, ideally within 6 months of attempting pregnancy.

As you can see everyone’s experience is a little different depending on the underlying cause and required treatment but throughout each stage of your journey, please remember the following important points:

  • You are not alone. Up to one in six couples worldwide have difficulty conceiving in the first 12 months of trying.

  • For most people, the possibility of becoming pregnant is very good. More than 85% of couples become pregnant within the first 12 months.

  • The reasons for infertility are many and varied but the treatments available to assist you in becoming pregnant in ReproMed are simple and effective and we have some of the best success rates in Ireland right now.

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