We look at how long you should wait before seeing your doctor if it's taking you longer than expected to get pregnant.
Frustrating as it may seem, for some couples conceiving a baby is something that takes time and as the months roll by without a positive pregnancy test you can begin to wander how long you should leave it before seeking further help.
How long should we wait?
It's generally recommended that you wait until you've been having regular unprotected sex (this means roughly 2 - 3 times a week) for a year before you visit your doctor for further investigation. While this may seem a long time, over 80% of couples conceive naturally within 12 months of actively trying for a baby and 95% conceive within 2 years, so getting pregnant can sometimes take a little longer than expected even though there is nothing wrong.
However, the one year wait isn't a definitive rule as every couple are different. If you or your partner have reason to believe that there may be an underlying fertility issue that's preventing you from conceiving you should see your doctor sooner.
Additionally, if you're aged 35 or over it's recommended that you see your doctor after 6 months of actively trying with no success. This is simply because female fertility begins to decline after this age and by seeking help earlier the investigatory process is set in motion so that if there is an issue it can be addressed as soon as possible.
There are other circumstances which can mean you should wait less than a year before seeking advice from your doctor, these include:
- Irregular periods or menstrual cycles that consistently span less than 21 days or more than 35 days
- Ovulation tests consistently failing to detect ovulation
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or any infection of the pelvic area.
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Previous ectopic pregnancies
- Endometriosis or fibroids
- A history of STIs such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea
- Problems with keeping an erection or premature ejaculation
- A job that exposes you to radiation or potentially toxic chemicals
- Chronic illness such as cancer or diabetes
- If you are significantly under or overweight
- If you smoke
If you've been trying to get pregnant for more than a year of have reason to suspect that you or your partner may have issues with fertility then you should book in to see your GP. It's best to attend the appointment as a couple as your doctor will want to ask you both questions about your lifestyle, general health and medical history.
Your doctor is then likely to suggest some basic tests to monitor ovulation and sperm count and also check for hormonal issues that may make it difficult to conceive (such as PCOS). It's likely that your doctor will also recommend tests to check for STIs known to cause problems with fertility.
If these initial test results come back clear your doctor may suggest that you continue to try conceiving naturally for a little longer before taking the investigation further. Alternatively, if there does appear to be an issue that's preventing you from conceiving, your doctor will refer you on to your local specialist fertility unit.
Do you worry about how long its taking you to conceive? Share your journey with other parents-to-be who understand exactly what you're going through on the AskBaby Forums