If you are having difficulty getting or staying pregnant, you are not alone. At some point, infertility affects 15 percent of all couples. Recurrent pregnancy loss affects another 3 percent of couples.
If you are one of these couples, you may feel isolated and depressed. You will get all sorts of helpful and unhelpful advice from people (including yourself) who really do care. Perhaps one of the worst things someone can tell you is to “relax” or “quit trying so hard.” This advice generally has two effects:
- To make you even more tense.
- To make you think it’s all your fault.
At Tennessee Reproductive Medicine, we understand the stress that infertility and pregnancy loss causes. While it is true that in extreme cases stress can cause a woman to stop ovulating, very rarely is stress a cause of infertility.
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Normal Conception Rates
After one year of adequate unprotected intercourse, 85 percent of couples ages 20 to 40 will be pregnant. Of the 15 percent who aren’t pregnant, half of those will be pregnant within the second year. The monthly chance of conceiving among couples in which the woman is less than 32 years old is approximately 20 to 25 percent. This illustrates that human reproduction is very INEFFICIENT! It may take some couples many months to conceive, and this is within the range of normal. After age 32, monthly conception rates start to decrease slightly, then more significantly after age 35 to about 10 to 15 percent chance per month.
When Should I Seek Help Conceiving?
Infertility is considered the lack of conception after 12 months of unprotected regular intercourse (timed adequately during the suspected time of ovulation). All couples who have not conceived after 12 months warrant a full evaluation. While some couples will spontaneously conceive after 12 months of attempts, most will need some form of fertility therapy and further attempts at natural conception may be wasting precious time.
Furthermore, many couples warrant a sooner evaluation if there is a history suggestive of:
- ovulation disorders
- tubal disorders
- male reproduction disorders
- female is 35 years or older
- female with prior radiation or chemotherapy treatments
Do I Need a Fertility Specialist?
Sometimes this is an easy question to answer, sometimes it’s difficult. Consider your situation and conditions by taking this Infertility Quiz. If the total number of points equals or exceeds 15 points, and you wish to conceive, strong consideration should be given to seeing a fertility specialist, specifically a reproductive endocrinologist.