How Long Should You Try to Get Pregnant Before Seeking Medical Help?
You spent your whole life convinced that having unprotected sex just once would lead to getting pregnant. So when you decided the time was right to have a baby, stopped using birth control, and began having unprotected sex, you thought, 'Here we go!
But then you got your period… And then you got it the next month too.
What gives? Is something wrong? Should you go see your doctor? Welcome friend, to the trying to conceive (TTC) anxiety train.
Let me save you some time and effort by telling you if you’re under 35 years old, your doctor will likely just tell you to keep trying for 12 months before coming back. If you’re over 35 years old, keep trying for at least 6 months.
When should you go see your doctor when you’re trying to get pregnant?
So when should you go see your doctor when you’re trying to get pregnant then? Ideally, before you even start trying to conceive (though it’s never too late if you haven’t yet).
Why should you go see your doctor before you start trying to get pregnant?
Typically, if you communicate with your doctor about your plans to get pregnant in the near future, they’ll want to run a preconception checkup.
A preconception checkup can involve discussing and testing for pre-existing conditions that might affect your ability to conceive. This is especially important because some medical conditions can hinder fertility or pose risks during pregnancy.
During this visit, your doctor can also discuss prenatal vitamins, ensuring you're taking the right supplements to support a healthy pregnancy. Furthermore, they'll review any medications you're currently taking, ensuring they are safe for pregnancy or suggest alternatives if necessary.
How long should you try to get pregnant before talking to your doctor about it?
Once your doctor has cleared you to start trying and hasn’t identified any reasons it shouldn’t happen for you, your next prescribed step is patience.
This is when you’re told the golden rule of 12 months if you’re under 35 years old and 6 months if you’re under 35 years old.
Why do you have to keep trying for so long before you get advice that isn’t “keep trying?”
Contrary to popular belief, your doctor isn't trying to torture you. If you don't have a known pre-existing condition that would affect your ability to conceive, there's no reason to believe you won't get pregnant within the recommended time frame of 12 months if you're under 35, and 6 months if you're over 35 years old. The medical system is working with the data that shows 90% of couples will get pregnant within the first 12 months of trying to conceive.
Can I get my health care practitioner to intervene earlier if I'm not getting pregnant?
Short answer: probably not without reason.
In an ideal world
In my perfect world, when you go see your health care practitioner and tell them you want to conceive, they would preemptively run all the preconception labs you wanted to ensure nothing that’s currently unknown will prevent you from getting pregnant
Then they would say:
"Here's how you monitor your fertility at home on an ongoing basis. This will ensure you time sex accurately and maximize your chances of conceiving every cycle so you can get pregnant as soon as possible. Come back if you notice any of the following signs of subfertility or infertility so we can address them promptly, ensuring you don't waste any time on your TTC journey."
Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but it does happen to be the void I’m trying to fill with Ovary Mindful, and specifically my course, “The Fertility Roadmap: Navigating the First 12 Months of Trying to Conceive.”
In the real world
Because in reality, running all those preconception labs is costly. And while some kinds of health practitioners are focused on preventative medicine, the traditional medical system is focused on treating issues and symptoms once they arise. And thank goodness for it!
But when you’re trying to conceive, being proactive is your best bet at decreasing your time to conception. In "The Fertility Roadmap", we teach you how to increase your chances of conception by 20%, not just with proper timing of intercourse, but maximal timing of intercourse.
One study showed that for couples using fertility awareness to time intercourse properly, 80% conceived within 6 cycles. Of the 20% that didn't conceive within 6 cycles, 50% conceived within 12 cycles. Therefore, the argument was made that for couples using fertility awareness to time intercourse, a basic fertility workup should be performed after only 6 cycles of infertility, rather than the traditional 12 cycles.
We also teach you how to self-identify the #1 and #2 most common causes of infertility that are otherwise invisible if you’re not tracking your cycle. If you identify either of these, present the data to your doctor. If they tell you to keep trying without performing any tests to confirm your suspicions and provide you with treatment options, it's time to get a new doctor. As a woman, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that you will need to advocate for yourself in this process. Say whaaaat?
When it comes to trying to conceive, understanding the recommended waiting periods for seeking medical advice is essential. By consulting a doctor before attempting to conceive, you can address potential challenges and optimize your chances of a successful pregnancy. While the waiting periods might seem lengthy, they are based on statistical probabilities and general health assessments.
In the meantime, taking a proactive approach through resources like "The Fertility Roadmap" can empower you with knowledge and enhance your fertility journey. Remember, advocating for yourself and seeking the right guidance can make all the difference on your path to parenthood.