If you’re looking for advice about options surrounding fertility, pregnancy or counselling, always consult your doctor.
A finding that turns up in surveys on fertility time and time again is that many Australians believe they should just keep trying to conceive naturally without seeking medical advice, even if it hasn’t worked after 12 months.
It’s important this misconception is addressed head on because it could seriously impact people’s chances of having a baby.
Genea Medical Director and Fertility Specialist, Associate Professor Mark Bowman, said the widely accepted medical recommendation is that couples over 35 should seek help after six months of unprotected sex without success. If you’re under 35, try for 12 months and then talk to a doctor who specialises in fertility. As Associate Professor Bowman explains, your chance of getting pregnant doesn’t increase the longer you try.
“Those couples who conceive naturally, irrespective of age, will tend to do so in the first few months of trying and most couples who are destined to conceive will do so within six to 12 months. Once the woman is over 35, age becomes a greater factor and the chance of natural conception as time goes on falls significantly,” Bowman said.
Age is the main factor in this discussion about fertility and a woman’s age is most important. As much as society, the media and our friends keep telling us that 40 is the new 30, women’s eggs missed the memo.
Frustrating though it is, female age is one infertility factor we can do little to combat retrospectively.
The issue is that women are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have – approximately two million and by the time of their first period, that number will have dropped to approximately 300,000. Not only is the number of eggs falling as a woman gets older but the quality of the ones left also diminishes.
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Even though it’s not commonly discussed, the truth is, men aren’t off the hook when it comes to the ticking biological clock either.
“It’s not as widely known but age can also impact men’s fertility and the health of any resulting children,” Bowman said.
So the overall message is that fertility is finite and if you want to have kids the best idea is to ask for help if it’s not happening for you naturally. Seeking help is not necessarily a fast track to IVF, you might just need a little help ovulating or maybe something as simple as improving your lifestyle or quitting smoking would help.
Your dreams of a family are too important to let them slip away because you didn’t ask for help. While wanting to conceive naturally is completely understandable, the stories of couples who missed out because they kept trying by themselves too long are rife on fertility forums.
Research fertility group Genea found that many couples wait for more than two years before seeking fertility treatment. The problem with that is that if a 36-year-old decides to wait for the average time, they’ll be 38 by the time they seek treatment and their chances of conceiving will have dropped a further 15 per cent.
“We regularly see couples who are struggling to conceive their much-wanted child simply because they waited too long. We understand there are many competing priorities these days – career, mortgages and so on – but we just want people to be making educated decisions about when to start their families,” Bowman said.
The bottom line is - don’t wait! Get checked out to make sure there isn’t a medical issue that no amount of waiting will fix.