health

Am I the reason we’re not getting pregnant?

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When discussing conception, a process tightly wound with opinions and emotions – emotions possibly starting to fray at the edges – it’s reassuring to hear science’s calm, un-opinionated rationality.

Because sometimes it’s too easy to be hard on ourselves.

“Most people still automatically assume that a problem conceiving lies with the woman,” admits GP Dr Ginni Mansberg.

In fact, the actual odds present an entirely equal picture.

“It’s likely to be the woman in a third of cases, the man in a third of cases, and both partners in a third of cases. I always say, ‘A couple is having fertility issues’ – never the individual – because it involves both parties.”

One in six couples go through this. But it’s always the woman who suffers the guilt

The proof? For every uniquely female condition that may affect fertility – such as polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, failing to ovulate or an irregular menstrual cycle – there are many uniquely male ones.

Testicular cysts, groin surgery, ejaculation issues or exposure to extreme heat, chemicals or radiation may all impact his sperm quality.

"A couple has fertility issues - it's not an individual's fault"

There are also many lifestyle issues that have as much chance of affecting one sex as the other, such as undiagnosed and untreated STDs, being significantly overweight (or underweight) and smoking.

As for age, well, yes, that b*stard may be our Achilles Heel.

How to announce your pregnancy to someone struggling with infertility

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“When I was at medical school, the rule was to tell patients to try for a year and then see their GP. But if you’re over 35, it’s now preferable to see your doctor after six months of trying with no success (the same advice applies if you have any of the fertility-impeding health conditions listed above),” she adds.

“We know that female fertility starts to decline after 35, and doctors like to start fixing any problems as soon as possible.”

The good news is that over 80% of couples conceive naturally within 12 months of actively trying, and 95% within two years.

But if trying is feeling, well, trying, Dr Ginni believes there is one key area where many couples go wrong: your sexual timing.

And it’s NOT about following the old ‘do-it-when-ovulating’ rule.

7 thing you didn't know about your (and his) fertility 

“Many couples get very stressed trying to coordinate sex so they have it precisely when the woman ovulates (that’s the time, about 14 days after the first day of your last period, when an egg is released and travels into your fallopian tubes),” she explains.

“But it’s difficult to reliably pinpoint that moment; get it wrong and your egg starts to degenerate after six hours. Sperm, however, are incredibly hardy and can happily survive up to week inside your body. So it’s the sex leading up to ovulation that’s more important than the sex on ovulation. It means the sperm are already sitting there, ready and waiting for your egg.”

Leaving you to fully concentrate on the job at hand: having amazing sex.

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