When Getting Pregnant Is Hard

Having a baby isn’t always easy. While some people are successful on the first attempt, the process can take months or years for many others. After a certain period of time, couples should seek out the help of a healthcare provider to determine if infertility is the problem. Once an infertility diagnosis is made, assisted reproductive technology (ART) options like in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be considered.


Timeline to pregnancy

Fertility naturally declines with age, making pregnancy harder to achieve as a woman gets older. If a pregnancy has not been achieved after 1 year of trying to conceive (TTC), an infertility evaluation should be considered. For women over 35, an evaluation is recommended after 6 months of trying to get pregnant. Women over 40 should consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best plan.

Time to see a doctor

During this appointment, the provider will discuss basic reasons why pregnancy isn’t happening, such as the timing of intercourse, weight, and smoking. If more help is needed, the next step would be for a woman to see an OB/GYN or reproductive endocrinologist. Sometimes, the male partner may need to see a urologist. These specialists can closely examine the female and male reproductive systems to see if any obvious problems are present. The reproductive endocrinologist will order imaging tests and blood work to determine why pregnancy has not occurred.

Fixing a reproductive problem

In some cases, a reproductive endocrinologist will identify a relatively easy problem that can be solved. For example, if a fibroid is taking up space in the uterus, blocking implantation, the growth can be removed. If lab work shows that hormone or thyroid levels are off, medication can help adjust levels back to normal. More serious problems, such as a blocked fallopian tube, may require laparoscopic surgery to address the issue.

When a solution isn’t so simple

Other times, a less modifiable cause may be found. For example, age alone can sometimes be the sole reason conception is impossible. Women over 40 may be told that pregnancy is unlikely due to a low egg count. Younger women can also struggle with diminished ovarian reserve. Although egg quality can be improved with certain lifestyle changes, increasing egg quantity is not possible. For men, a low sperm count can be another difficult problem to correct in most instances. For couples with more challenging problems, ART is often the best solution.

From diagnosis to baby

Although an infertility diagnosis can feel overwhelming for many people, seeing a doctor to figure out why pregnancy hasn’t happened is essential. An infertility diagnosis opens the doors to see a reproductive endocrinologist who can help identify the exact cause. Once the reason for infertility is known, lifestyle changes, surgery, medication, and ART treatments can help solve the problem. For many people TTC, knowledge is power.