Q&A: I want a baby. How long should I wait before seeking medical assistance?
I'm trying to conceive. How long should I wait before seeking medical assistance?
Once you have made the decision to have a baby, each month brings with it the anticipation of a positive pregnancy test. Trying to conceive (or TTC) can turn from excitement to anxiety or stress if you don’t become pregnant after the first few months. On average, a woman younger than 35 years should check with her doctor if she does not become pregnant in 12 months. It is reasonable for a woman 35 years or older to check in with her doctor after six months of trying to conceive.
One of the most helpful things to do when trying to get pregnant is to become aware of and track your menstrual cycle and body changes that you experience each month. Watch for changes in body temperature (basal body temperature), and changes in/increase of vaginal mucus. By planning more frequent intercourse during this time, you will greatly increase your odds of getting pregnant more quickly!
There can be several reasons that you may not become pregnant.
- Health (hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), medications)
- Age (women over 35 may have a more difficult time)
- Lifestyle (smoking, excess alcohol consumption, eating disorders, obesity)
- Problems with your partner’s fertility
If you and your partner have made the decision to get pregnant, start with a physical and a trip to your gynecologist first. If there are any issues you need to be aware of up front, it may save you months of stress and worry. You should also begin taking
folic acid before trying to conceive. Your doctor will have you start taking prenatal vitamins, which contain the proper amount of folic acid. Try to eat a healthy diet, get adequate rest, and exercise. Don’t forget to have fun in the process and don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself.
If there is a delay in getting pregnant on your own, ask your doctor for a referral to a fertility specialist. This specialist will interview and test both you and your partner to pinpoint the source of the problem. Fixes can include surgery, medication, and/or in vitro fertilization.