If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it may seem like in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the best, or only, choice. But while IVF might be helpful, it doesn’t need to be your first option. Your first stop should be your OB/GYN’s office.
Talking with your OB/GYN can help you understand the causes of your infertility and alternatives to IVF that you might not have considered yet.
“I’ve met women who said they couldn’t get pregnant but knew they didn’t want IVF because it can be expensive and invasive,” says Rachel Humphrey, MD, medical director of AdventHealth for Women's Maternal-Fetal Medicine Program.
“As a result, they didn’t seek any treatment when they may have been helped by a simple pill.”
Clearing up misconceptions like this is one of the most important benefits of seeing your trusted health care provider when you are having difficulty becoming pregnant.
With Infertility Concerns, See Your OB/GYN First
“If you’re having trouble conceiving, the first person you should contact is an OB/GYN physician,” Dr. Humphrey says. “Your OB/GYN may end up recommending you see a fertility specialist, but they will suggest you take some more simple steps first.”
Whatever the cause, having trouble getting pregnant can be stressful, which can make make getting pregnant that much harder. Knowing more about the journey to conception — especially when to ask for help, how to be prepared to conceive and what your technological options are — can give you more confidence.
Infertility affects about 1 in 8 couples and may be among their most difficult challenges. The experts at AdventHealth for Women are not only well-versed in the latest technology around fertility, they respond with empathy to the anxiety and concern that infertility can cause.
When to Ask for Help
If you have trouble conceiving, it may not be obvious how long you should wait before looking for help. How long you ought to wait depends on how old you are as well as your personal history.
Dr. Humphrey says women under 35 who have been trying to conceive for more than one year should seek help, as should women over 35 who have been trying for six months.
But there’s an exception to this rule. If you’re under 35 and are not having regular periods, then that may mean your body isn’t producing eggs regularly.
“If your period is irregular and you aren’t making an egg reliably, you’re not likely to get pregnant,” Dr. Humphrey says, so you should seek help sooner.
How Ovulation Timing Helps
The goal for conception should be to time intercourse before ovulation occurs. Sperm is viable for roughly two or three days inside the fallopian tube, but the egg is viable for less than 24 hours, Dr. Humphrey notes.
“You want the sperm there to greet the egg,” she says.
Dr. Humphrey recommends that if you’re trying to conceive, you should purchase an ovulation prediction kit. Most women ovulate between 12 to 16 days after their period begins, but a kit can offer more precision.
She also suggests that you eat healthfully, exercise regularly and try to avoid being exposed to infections and radiation.
It’s also helpful to have someone with whom you can talk with and confide in openly throughout this process, Dr. Humphrey says.
“Once you decide to have a baby, your stress level goes up because either you get pregnant or you don’t get pregnant, and both are stressful,” Dr. Humphrey says. “I’ve seen people who’ve had multi-year journeys to achieve pregnancies, and having social support, an outlet for talking to someone, can make a big difference.”
Effective Treatments for Common Causes of Infertility
If you and your partner are having difficulty conceiving, there might be a complication with one of the following steps:
- Clear fallopian tubes so sperm can reach the egg
- The fertilized egg being able to reach and implant in the uterus
- The man’s ability to produce healthy sperm
- The woman’s ability to produce healthy eggs
Your OB/GYN can help you determine which, if any, of these issues is the reason behind why you’re struggling to conceive. The most common causes of infertility — a low sperm count in men and the lack of eggs for women — are quickly treatable, meaning you might not need to resort to time-consuming procedures like IVF.
By working together with your trusted care provider, you can decide which infertility treatment is best for you. AdventHealth for Women offers various treatments that may be right for you, including:
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
- Medication to stimulate egg production
- Minimally invasive procedures to clear the fallopian tubes
- Intrauterine insemination
With any of these treatment options, it’s important that you talk with your OB/GYN first, as he or she can walk you through the nuances of each treatment and help you weigh the pros and cons for your pregnancy.
And that’s just the beginning of the comprehensive and compassionate care you can expect at AdventHealth for Women. We offer a a spectrum of services that help couples achieve pregnancy and pair them with a deep understanding of the mental and emotional elements of fertility care.
Your Personal Care Coordinator for Pregnancy
If you’re struggling to conceive, remember you’re never alone — our specialists are here to guide you and offer unparalleled compassion throughout this journey. At AdventHealth for Women, you have a partner by your side, coordinating your care every step of the way.
Our Women’s Health Navigator, Doreen Forsythe BSN, RN, is an experienced health care advocate who can answer your questions, plan out your appointments and offer guidance and support as you embark on your pregnancy journey.