Not falling pregnant?

I’m not falling pregnant – what’s the problem?

The pregnancy tester lays on the bathroom vanity, while the woman eyes it nervously, awaiting a result. She’s been trying to fall pregnant for the last few months. Maybe this time …

For most women, the decision to have a baby is a momentous one. And for many people, conception happens fairly quickly … but not necessarily for everyone. About 85% of normal couples will be pregnant after 12 months trying, 75% after 6 months.

Doctors are seeing more women having difficulty in getting pregnant than we did 20 years ago. To a large extent, this is because as a society we are delaying having children until we are older. A woman who might have had no problems falling pregnant in her twenties may find it more difficult to do so in her thirties.

So what happens when you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time with no success? Well, the first thing to do is - don’t assume the worst. Up to 80% of infertility issues can be solved. It may simply be a case of taking some tablets for a few days each cycle to make your ovulation regular. The first step is for you and your partner to see your doctor about it.

See your GP first, with any fertility problems. The cause can be due to either partner, or with both. Around 40% of the time, there is a problem with the male, 40% of difficulties are due to the female, and around 20% of the time it’s a combination.

Firstly, your doctor will look at some of the general health issues that can make it more difficult to conceive. For both men and women, these can include smoking, obesity, diabetes, alcohol, caffeine and recreational drugs, which can all have a negative effect on fertility.

Assuming that there are no major problems there, your doctor will check on the fertility of you and your partner.

Sperm analysis is the first step for the male, checking the number and motility of the sperm. For the woman, the doctor will be looking at your ovulation. Problems with ovulation can often be the reason for difficulty in falling pregnant. If your cycle is long or irregular, see your GP early. Common fertility issues can include polycystic ovaries or blocked Fallopian tubes.

There are also some more general medical conditions which could be affecting your ability to become pregnant. Some examples of these would include coeliac disease, thyroid disease, thrombosis which interferes with the implantation process, chromosomal defects or autoimmune disorders such as lupus and vasculitis. In some cases, treating this underlying issue can improve the chances of conception.

Another reasonably common problem we come across is malformation of the uterus, or fibroid growths in the uterus. Laparoscopic day surgery can fix some of these uterine difficulties.

Endometriosis is another condition that can affect fertility – again, surgery can be an option for this.

As I said at the beginning of this column, don’t be too concerned until you’ve spoken to your doctor. Sometimes it’s a ‘simple fix’ with vitamins, antioxidants or medication to make your ovulation more regular. Sometimes the solution is more complex, up to and including IVF treatment. But the good thing to remember is that up to 80% of fertility problems can be treated.

See your GP first if you’ve been trying several months with no success. If necessary, your GP will arrange a referral to one of our fertility specialists at QFG Sunshine Coast.  You may also call our nurses at QFG Sunshine Coast  (5493 7133) for advice, or a free initial consultation.