Why am I not getting pregnant?
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Robert Winston
Fertility expert and one of the world's pioneers of IVF and Fertility Medicine. BAFTA award-winning television presenter and Member of The House of Lords in the UK.
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Tests of Infertility

Why am I not getting pregnant?

There are many reasons you might not be getting pregnant. It may be that you are worrying too soon, or there may be a simple and resolvable problem. It might be the problem is hard to identify or explain. The first step is to see your Doctor and be referred to a fertility specialist. You then need to carry out all the relevant tests to identify your particular situation. IVF should not be an automatic first step as other, simpler, less expensive treatments might be more appropriate.
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In Short

Typical causes for concern for women might be:

If you have very irregular periods or no periods.

If you have excessive hair growth which can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Typical causes of concern for men might be:

If you have have suffered genital tract infection.

If you have a swelling in the testis, a history of significant groin injury or testicular surgery.

Why am I not getting pregnant and what should I do next?

It is important to understand that infertility is a symptom that something is wrong. It is not a disease, but it can be the result of a disease process. There are numerous causes and the best treatment is likely to be different in each circumstance. It is vital to undergo any tests to properly diagnose what you and your partner’s particular fertility problems might be before starting any treatment.

Infertility diagnosis needs to come before IVF or any other fertility treatment

Unfortunately, the massive publicity given to IVF (in vitro fertilization) has led to most people believing that it is almost the only option available to any infertile couple and that it is the most successful. This is utterly wrong. Strictly speaking, IVF is not a ‘treatment’ for infertility because it does not alter the underlying cause because it’s a way of by-passing a problem. Most couples having difficulty conceiving never need this complex treatment. Because IVF is seen so frequently as a panacea for infertility treatment, far too many men and women attempt it when it could be that other, simpler, less expensive treatments might be more applicable.

Where do we go to start to get help with our fertility?

First, seek advice from your doctor or gynecologist. On average, it takes most couples perhaps five months to conceive normally, and it is not abnormal to take up to a year. If you have been trying (having regular unprotected sex) to conceive for 6-12 months (depending on your age, the older you are the less time you should wait) or more without success, talk to your doctor. If there are specific indications that there may be a problem or the woman is over 35 years of age, seek medical advice sooner.

Infertility symptoms in men and women that need to be checked promptly

Typical causes for concern might be very irregular periods or no periods, excessive hair growth which can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (POS or PCOS), a history of abdominal surgery, history of repeated miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, and/or a family history of early menopause.

Both men and women who have suffered genital tract infection may wish to seek earlier investigation, as should men with a swelling in the testis, a history of significant groin injury or testicular surgery.

While a family doctor is generally in a position to arrange some simple tests like a sperm count, most will tend to send their patients to a gynaecologist with an expertise in fertility medicine. If a couple has a clinic or specialist in mind, a doctor can refer them accordingly – this is their right in the UK. During and after testing, whether or not a clear cause for the infertility is found, a doctor can talk couples through the next steps, which may include referral to a fertility clinic for further treatment.

The Genesis Research Trust

Despite countless breakthroughs in medical science, we still do not understand why some pregnancies will end in tragedy. For most of us, having a child of our own is the most fulfilling experience of our lives. All of us can imagine the desperation and sadness of parents who lose a baby, and the life-shattering impact that a disabled or seriously ill child has on a family.

Professor Robert Winston’s Genesis Research Trust raises money for the largest UK-based collection of scientists and clinicians who are researching the causes and cures for conditions that affect the health of women and babies.

Essential Parent is proud to support their wonderful work. You can learn more about them here.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.