When should a couple seek help for infertility?

If you have been trying to get pregnant for 6 months and you're unable to do so, then it's time to call your doctor. The definition of infertility is a year of trying to conceive without using contraception and not being able to do so. Once you are 36, that interval is shortened to 6 months. If you've been trying to conceive for 6 months and you're unable to do so then it's time in both of those scenarios to seek an infertility evaluation.

It is ideal that you sit down with your obstetrician gynecologist and have a discussion about what your fertility desires are when you want to potentially conceive and have a baby. A pre-pregnancy counseling session gives you a good opportunity to evaluate the lifestyle factors that you can change to optimize health, control hypertension and control diabetes. You should begin to take a prenatal vitamin at this time.

If you are under 35 years old then you should try getting pregnant for at least 12 months before calling your doctors. If you are over 35 years old, try for six months maximum, but you could have a discussion with your doctor sooner about preconception and fertility issues.

Consultation with your OBGYN is always recommended when trying to conceive, where you are on your first attempt or on month eight. Your OBGYN will help guide your decision making and will refer you to a fertility specialist if he or she feels it is warranted. Typically, it is recommended that you seek a fertility specialist if you have failed to conceive after one year.

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

I counsel my patients that a fertility workup should be performed on a couple after they have been trying to become pregnant for 1 year without success. If a woman is greater than 35 years old, I then tell her and her partner that they should have fertility testing done at 6 months of trying to become pregnant.

Most physicians advise you not to be concerned unless you have been trying to conceive for at least one year and are under 35. If you are over 35 and have been trying for 6 months, you should consult a physician. If you are over 30 and have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, painful periods, miscarriage, irregular cycles, or if you know that your partner has a low sperm count, do not wait one year. Consult your Ob/Gyn.

Many couples have a difficult time admitting there may be a problem. After each menstrual cycle there is hope that "it will work this time." When these hopes are dashed month after month, you should consult your Ob/Gyn.

Dr. John K. Jain, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Fertility professionals recommend seeking infertility treatment after a woman has been trying to conceive for approximately 1 year. This number is based on a woman's average monthly chance of conceiving. Over the course of 1 year, 90% of couples who are trying to conceive are able to successfully. 

However, it is important to note that early evaluation should be sought by women with a history of menstrual irregularity, STDs, pelvic surgery, endometriosis, or autoimmune conditions. Women suffering from any of these conditions may benefit from consulting a medical professional before trying to conceive, as their risk of infertility is potentially greater. For women over 40, seeking a fertility evaluation before 1 year of trying (usually 6 months) may be warranted given the limited number of reproductive years remaining.

Women who have had or will have treatment for cancer should also consult with a fertility expert (prior to cancer treatment if possible), as some forms of cancer treatment may cause either temporary or permanent infertility. Many cancer patients choose to utilize oocyte preservation (egg or embryo freezing) prior to receiving cancer treatment- to be used later, either when the cancer patient has fully recovered, or through the use of a gestational surrogate.

If you've experienced the following events, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist:

  • If you are under age 35 and have been unable to conceive after a year of trying to get pregnant.
  • If you are over age 35 and have been unable to conceive after six months of trying to get pregnant.
  • When you've lost two or more pregnancies to miscarriage.
  • When other infertility treatments have not been successful.

If you do not have regular menstrual cycles, or if you have had prior gynecological problems including endometriosis, pelvic surgery, tubal pregnancy or infections, you should seek assistance sooner.

Dr. Evelyn Minaya, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

When you should see a fertility specialist depends on several factors. Find out what they are by watching this video featuring obstetrician and gynecologist Evelyn Minaya, M.D.

Infertility is common. One in seven couples has difficulty getting pregnant. When you should seek help depends on:

  • you and your partner's age
  • your health history

A couple should seek help after 12 months of trying if they are having frequent intercourse and the woman is healthy and under the age of 35.

However, if the woman is between 35 and 40, the couple should seek help after six months of trying.

Certain couples may want to seek help with infertility after less than six months if the woman is older than 40 and has a history of irregular or absent periods or known or suspected tubal disease, or if the man has a history of testicular trauma or disease.

If you have questions about conceiving, ask your primary care doctor if you need to seek help from a fertility specialist.

Most specialists recommend that couples with no known reproductive health problems try to get pregnant through intercourse for 12 months before seeking medical advice.

However, if a woman is 35 or older, has menstrual or ovulatory irregularities, known tubal problems, a history of miscarriages or thyroid conditions, she should consult a specialist much earlier in the process, usually at six months or sooner.

Men with known sperm deficiencies or a history of infections, cancer treatment or scrotal surgery should also consult a specialist early in the process.

If you are worried about fertility, you and your partner should:

  • consult a specialist early on
  • educate yourself as much as possible about all aspects of infertility
  • ask questions
  • know your treatment options and consider what you feel is financially and emotionally possible

Most experts suggest at least one year. Women 35 or older should see their doctors after six months of trying. A woman's chances of having a baby decrease rapidly every year after the age of 30.

Some health problems also increase the risk of infertility. So, women should talk to their doctors if they have:

Irregular periods or no menstrual periods Very painful periods Endometriosis Pelvic inflammatory disease More than one miscarriage

It is a good idea for any woman to talk to a doctor before trying to get pregnant. Doctors can help you get your body ready for a healthy baby. They can also answer questions on fertility and give tips on conceiving.

This answer is based on source information from National Women's Health Information Center.

Dr. Margaret L. McKenzie, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

If you have trouble becoming pregnant you may want to see a fertility specialist. Watch this video to learn how long you should keep trying before you seek help in becoming pregnant.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.