Have you been trying to get pregnant for a long time? Are you beginning to wonder if you can get pregnant? You are not alone. Many women need fertility treatment to get pregnant.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for three or four months, keep trying. It may just take more time, even longer than you think it could. You may want to think about fertility treatment if:
Here are some things you and your partner can do to find out if you need treatment:
Most couples begin by seeing an obstetrician-gynecologist or their family doctor. Because infertility is a highly technical field of medicine, talk with your health care provider about whether you should see a specialist.
Advanced medical training is needed to be a specialist. Doctors often study the fields of reproductive endocrinology for women and urology for men. Specialists are more likely than other doctors to offer a variety of treatments (see below). Here are things to think about when choosing a specialist:
The doctor begins by performing a physical examination, taking your medical history and, sometimes, ordering specialized tests. When a possible cause of infertility is found, the most common treatments are:
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), most infertility cases (85-90 percent) are treated with drugs or surgery. More advanced types of infertility treatment include:
Couples sometimes choose to ask another person to donate eggs, sperm or an embryo. (Embryo is the word for the human organism from conception until approximately the eighth week.) Others make an agreement with a woman to bear a child for them. These choices involve serious ethical and legal issues and should be made with care.
Fertility treatment does help many women get pregnant. But it can cause certain problems.
One serious problem is that treatment can cause you to get pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more). Multiples are more likely to be premature (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). Premature babies are at risk of breathing, vision and hearing problems. Being pregnant with multiples also can cause problems for the mother. Examples are high blood pressure, preterm labor, bleeding and problems with the placenta, and diabetes.
Sometimes fertility drugs can enlarge a woman's ovaries. The woman may feel pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting. If the condition becomes severe, the woman may have to be hospitalized. Both reproductive surgery and ART may lead to bleeding, infection, or damage to organs or blood vessels.
Even one baby born after ART is more likely to have problems that a baby born without fertility treatment. These problems include being born too early or too small. Many experts are concerned that ART may be related to certain rare birth defects. More research is needed to learn about this possible risk.
Insurance coverage for infertility treatments varies from company to company and state to state. Because treatment can be very costly, be sure to learn more about the costs and your insurance coverage while you are still thinking about treatment options.
The number of embryos depends upon the woman’s age and her individual circumstances. March of Dimes and many fertility experts agree that it’s important to lower the chances of getting pregnant with multiples, especially three or more babies.
Medical guidelines help specialists decide how many embryos to transfer. The aim of the guidelines is to give women the best chance of getting pregnant while lowering the chances of multiples. The following recommendations are from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine:
In some circumstances, more embryos may be transferred. For instance, if a woman has had two or more failed IVF treatments, more may be used.
If a donor is contributing eggs, the age of the donor should be considered when deciding how many embryos to transfer.
These organizations provide referrals to doctors and clinics.
September 2008 (7-09)
Knowing the signs of pregnancy can help you tell if you’re pregnant. Here are some signs that you might be pregnant:
If you have any of these pregnancy signs and think you may be pregnant, go to your health care provider. The sooner you know you're pregnant, the sooner you can begin prenatal checkups and start taking good care of yourself and your growing baby.
Home pregnancy tests are usually more accurate when your period is late - about 2 weeks after conception (getting pregnant). If they're done too early, they may say that you're not pregnant when you really are. This is called a false negative. That's why it’s best to take a home pregnancy test when your period is late. Carefully follow the test's instructions. Tests done at a lab or at your health care provider's office are more accurate.
If you've taken a home pregnancy test and it's negative (shows that you're not pregnant), you may want to take a blood pregnancy test at your health care provider's office. A blood pregnancy test is more sensitive than a home pregnancy test that checks your urine. The blood pregnancy test can tell a pregnancy very early on.
Pregnancy tests work by looking for the hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that a woman's body makes during pregnancy. If both a blood and urine test come back negative and you still have a missed period, talk with your health care provider. Things like stress, eating habits, illness or infection can cause changes in your menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy may not occur right away, so there is no need to worry. For most couples, it may take up to 1 year to conceive. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, or 6 months if you're over 35, it may be time to talk with your health care provider. You and your partner can get tests to find out why you are not getting pregnant
Ovulation is when a woman's ovary releases an egg. This egg travels down into the fallopian tube. If you had sex without using birth control, sperm will swim up to meet your egg so that your egg can be fertilized. If no fertilization occurs, and after about two weeks, your body sheds the unfertilized egg, the uterine lining and blood and tissue that would have nurtured a fertilized egg. This is known as menstruation (your period).
You ovulate before you menstruate. But if you don't get your period, it doesn't necessarily mean that you haven't ovulated. For example, some women have irregular cycles. Even if you're very regular, once in a while your cycle may change. Therefore, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when you ovulate. If you don't get your period, you may want to take a pregnancy test.
The best time to get pregnant is a few days before ovulation or the day of ovulation. This is because a man's sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse and a woman's egg is fertile for 12 to 24 hours after its release. If your periods are regular, use an ovulation calculator. If your periods are irregular, use one of the following. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about the most effective way to use these.
Have intercourse as close as possible to ovulation to improve your chance of getting pregnant.