Get Your OB On Board: Time Is (Almost) Everything
Being in the right place at the right time can make a difference in your life. It's true for getting pregnant, too. And your OB/Gyn knows how key timing is to pregnancy and delivery.
Does your OB also know how time impacts your ability to get pregnant? If he or she doesn't, you should.
At Houston Fertility Center, I've heard from many new patients their personal reports of months, and sometimes years, full of worry that something is wrong -- all the while being told by their primary care physicians that the best thing to do is de-stress and have patience. Nothing's wrong. Relax and you'll be pregnant in time.
It's true that stress can be a fertility factor, since it wreaks havoc on your hormones, which can result in lessened fertility. But many patients have health conditions that might easily be diagnosed and treated so that conception and pregnancy can occur -- stress or no stress. (And if stress really is your primary fertility problem, there are plenty of recommended steps you can take to change that.)
There's one factor in the fertility equation that treatment can't do much, if anything, about: time and your age. And there's nothing that has a greater impact on your chances for pregnancy.
While we have incredible medical technology that can help women get pregnant all the way into their 40's, the natural fact is that women's fertility levels decline significantly as they get older. That means the older you are when you're trying to conceive, the more effort it may take. It also means your chances of conception get smaller.
Age and time are so important to fertility, experts recommend you consult a reproductive specialist if:
you haven't become pregnant after a year of trying and you're a woman who's younger than 35 years
you haven't become pregnant after 6 months if you're 35 to 39 years old.
And women who are 39 years or older should seriously consider talking to a specialist as soon as getting pregnant is a goal.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine explains details of the age-fertility connection in their related booklet.
Besides the reproductive change that every female body goes through (and that actually begins long before most of us are aware of), many infertility-causing conditions are silent -- no symptoms to cause you concern, all the while the condition becomes a growing barrier to your body conceiving a pregnancy. If you have one of these barriers, which includes structural conditions, trauma, or infections, your own baseline fertility will quite possibly become worse over time.
If you've heard "Everything's fine," a little too often from your OB/Gyn, there's no harm in seeking a second opinion. You might benefit from some easy, inexpensive blood testing or semen analysis, or like some patients learn, it may only take a thorough medical history and brief educational tips on optimizing your trying-to-conceive efforts.
More of my thoughts about timing and conception:
Trying to Get Pregnant After 30 - Time to Panic? - a blogpost about how moving along with your plans is good, but stressing out about it defeats your purpose
Timing Is Everything: When You Want a Baby Later - a newsletter article on using ART to delay conception
a quick intro to Fertility & The Mind-Body Connection
~ Dr. Sonja Kristiansen MD