You’ve planned. You’ve waited for the right time. Now, you’re ready to have a baby. When women and their partners reach this stage, it’s exciting and hopeful. But if months stretch on with no pregnancy, excitement turns to doubt, and hope can turn to fear. How do you know if you’re just having some bad timing or if there really is a problem? And if there is a problem, what can you do about it?
If you track your ovulation, have sex at “optimum” times, and still haven’t had a positive pregnancy test, don’t panic. Even under the best of circumstances, it can take several months to conceive. But some lifestyle factors can affect ovulation, making it difficult to conceive…such as obesity, some medical conditions and medications, aging, and even stress.
One of the biggest factors to improve your fertility is to maintain ideal body weight—body mass index (BMI) between 18 and 25.
Nutrition and Fertility
Most women know that hormones can affect fertility, but many women—and even many doctors—overlook a common hormone that can affect fertility…insulin. High insulin levels are usually the result of a carbohydrate-dominant diet—one full of the sugar and starch so common in many American diets. In addition to contributing to obesity and diabetes, high insulin levels interfere with ovulation.
The key to having a diet that supports ovulation and pregnancy is balance—not letting any one food group dominate your diet. Try to avoid white food—white sugar, white bread, white potatoes. Try not to let any meal be “carb dominant,” avoid sugary drinks like regular soda, and use moderation when you splurge. Exercise also helps lower insulin. If you follow these tips, you’ll not only improve your chances of getting pregnant—you’ll improve your own health as well!
Women First providers can help you determine why you’re having problems conceiving, and what options you have to resolve these issues.
If you’ve tried to get pregnant for a year or more, it’s time to consult a physician to see what’s up. If you’re 35 or older, don’t wait longer than six months; or if you’ve had health issues that may affect your chances of conceiving, it may make sense to consult a physician earlier. Conception is complicated, and several factors are involved in getting pregnant, including:
- The availability of a healthy sperm and egg
- Unblocked fallopian tubes
- The sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg
- The egg’s ability to implant in the uterus
- The uterine and hormonal environment necessary to support a pregnancy
- The health of the embryo
If any of these factors aren’t working in your favor, you could be facing infertility. Your Women First provider can try to investigate the reasons for your problems getting pregnant and recommend possible solutions or refer you to an infertility specialist (Reproductive Endocrinologist—REI).
Infertility can be due to problems with either the male partner or the female partner, or due to unexplained causes. It is just as common for infertility to be due to issues with your partner’s sperm as it is to be due to you. That’s why it’s often necessary for both potential parents to undergo diagnostic testing. In men, this usually involves semen analysis. For women, diagnostic testing can include:
- Blood Work: often at a specific time of your cycle
- X-Rays: (HSG) x-ray dye test
- Transvaginal Ultrasound: of the uterus and ovaries
- Hysteroscopy: a lighted telescoping instrument (hysteroscope) is placed through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus for abnormalities
- Laparoscopy: a laparoscope is inserted through small incisions in the abdomen to evaluate the pelvic cavity for abnormalities
Depending on the cause of your problems getting pregnant, a variety of treatment options may be available. These could involve identifying ovulation for optimum chances of success, medical treatments such as fertility drugs, or even surgery. If these treatments fail to produce a pregnancy, or aren’t good options for you, we refer to Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialists (REI).