When is the right time to seek infertility help?

It is exciting when you decide the time is right to have a baby. You start thinking in your head about all the usual things, like what the baby will be like, how you will decorate the nursery and what type of parent you will be. So you start trying to fall pregnant and for a few, it happens straight away while others don’t have success in the first few months.

So you start trying to fall pregnant and for a few, it happens straight away while others don’t have success in the first few months. So what are the infertility statistics?

Rest assured, the truth is that 80 per cent of couples in the general population will fall pregnant within 12 months of trying to conceive. So the best thing to do is keep calm and keep trying. Eat well, exercise and make sure you are fertility fit.

Listen: Deb Knight did 14 rounds of IVF and then had a baby naturally.

However, for one in six couples, trying for 12 months does not result in pregnancy – and that’s the infertility statistic that I’ll focus on. For some, falling pregnant seems to begin to feel like it is taking forever and even becoming a little elusive, so when is the right time to seek help?

I recommend you seek advice from a fertility specialist to help guide you if you are experiencing any of the following concerns or conditions:

1. You have been trying to fall pregnant but haven’t been successful yet.

You should seek help if you are under 35 years of age and have not fallen pregnant within 12 months of unprotected intercourse, or if you are over 35 and have not fallen pregnant within six months of trying. Infertility statistics support this. For women aged 40 and over, I recommend further investigations be initiated after three months of trying to fall pregnant, as female age is one of the most important predictors of whether pregnancy will be achieved.

2. Irregular menstrual cycles

Irregular cycles may suggest a problem with ovulation and can impact on your ability to conceive. The average length of the menstrual cycle is 28 days, but can range between 25 and 35 days. The menstrual cycle is determined by a complex interaction of hormones, so any hormone imbalance can make your period irregular. Although, in most cases, irregular cycles are not dangerous, it is important to determine what is causing the irregularity sooner rather than later.

Having a known medical condition is a reason to seek help earlier. (Image iStock)

3. Medical conditions

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): This is a condition where the ovaries secrete abnormally high amounts of androgens (male hormones), which often cause problems with ovulation. Sufferers are warned the diagnosis increases the risk of infertility.

Endometriosis: Endometriosis results when endometrial-like cells (cells from inside the uterus) grow outside the uterus which affects fertility. Distortion of the anatomy due to endometriosis can block or change the function of the fallopian tubes and prevent the sperm from reaching and fertilising the egg.

Fibroids: These non-cancerous masses are found in the uterus or cervix. Another important infertility statistic is that uterine fibroids are found in one out of every four or five women in their 30s and 40s. Fibroids can cause tubal blockages, prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterine wall and cause miscarriage. The impact the fibroids have on fertility depends upon their size and location.

Blocked fallopian tubes: When fallopian tubes are blocked, the egg can be prevented from meeting the sperm, causing infertility.

Premature menopause: Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) is also called early menopause and refers to a condition where the ovary stops ovulating earlier than is normal resulting in infertility. The average age range for menopause is between 45 and 55.

Other medical causes: Thyroid disorders and genetic conditions.

Talking to a doctor can be helpful if you have any of these conditions. (Source: iStock)


4. Recurrent miscarriage

After three or more miscarriages (known as recurring miscarriages), tests are commonly done to look for the cause.

5. Known sperm issues.

Fertility advice should be sought if any of the following sperm issues are known: poor sperm morphology (abnormally shaped); poor motility (slow-moving); low sperm count; the presence of antisperm antibodies; ejaculatory problems or azoospermia (no sperm present); vasectomy. All these problems can cause infertility in men.

6. If a donor is required

If donor sperm or donor eggs are required.

Dr Ashish Das is the medical director of City Fertility Centre Brisbane. You can read the original post on their website here