"My husband and I have tried to conceive for the past year. Is it time to consult a doctor?”
This is a very good question and one that we hear often. The textbook definition of infertility is one year of actively trying to conceive without success. About 85% of couples who try to conceive will do so within the first year. Any couple who has been trying for at least a year, without success, should consult with a qualified physician. While waiting a year before consulting a physician is good general advice, this rule does not hold true in several instances.
Fertility rates usually decrease as women age. Most fertility specialists recommend that women over age 35 consult with a physician if they have been trying for six months and not conceived. In addition, couples with any of the following factors should seek a medical evaluation regardless of age: women with irregular menstrual cycles or problems with their fallopian tubes (such as tubal surgery for an ectopic pregnancy); males with known or suspected decreased semen levels; or if either has received treatment that can damage the reproductive cells such as chemo or radiation therapy.
"I lead a healthy lifestyle, but have not been able to get pregnant. Is there anything I can do to improve my chances?”
One of the most important ways to improve your chances for conception is to ensure that intercourse is timed correctly. You are most fertile in the menstrual cycle the day of ovulation and the two days before ovulation.
An ovulation predictor kit is a good tool to predict ovulation. These kits can be purchased at most local pharmacies. In general, a positive reading means that ovulation will take place within the next 12 to 36 hours. The downside to using the predictor kit is that it can sometimes be difficult to read. Some women prefer basal body temperature charting to try and predict ovulation. Basal body temperature is not an optimal method because the basal body temperature does not time you recognize that there has been an increase in your temperature; you have missed the most fertile days in your cycle.
Dr. Todd Deutch, on staff at The Fertility Center at Missouri Baptist, is board-certified in OB/GYN and board eligible in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. He received his medical degree from Tulane University Medical School, completed his residency in OB/GYN at the University of Chicago, and completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School.