When you want a baby so badly, discovering your period has arrived can be devastating.  Naturally, we’re more than happy to share happy fertility news with an exciting pregnancy announcement, sadly we tend to stay quiet on the topic of infertility, and that needs to change.

fertility conception tips

Natural Fertility Awareness Week

This week is Natural Fertility Awareness Week, a week dedicated to sharing fertility information. We have a whole heap of positive fertility stories in our Fertility section, and we also have some great advice from Dr Andrew Pickering, an Obstetrician at The Mater Private Hospital. 

Starting a family is an exciting prospect though the journey can sometimes be riddled with questions, anxiety and concerns. As an obstetrician, I want to stress that every woman’s pregnancy is unique and needs to be supported individually,” Dr. Pickering says.

“Statistically, 60% of couples end up falling pregnant after six months. For the other 40%, this doesn’t mean your journey is over. Infertility is, in its most basic form, a failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”


Why am I not getting pregnant?

Below are a few reasons you may not be not getting pregnant. Remember, if ever in doubt, speak to your doctor.

Not Ovulating 

If you’re not ovulating regularly, then you aren’t releasing an egg which is needed for human conception. Reasons for anovulation include PCOS, being over or underweight, primacy ovarian insufficiency, thyroid dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia, and excessive exercise. 

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when endometrium-like tissue (which is the tissue that lines the uterus) grows in places outside of the uterus. It’s a lot more common than most women realise and, in addition to causing painful periods, it can also make getting pregnant very tricky. Read more about endometriosis including Emma Wiggle’s journey. 

Emma Wiggle endometriosis
Emma opened up about her endo diagnosis in 2018. Source: Instagram

Irregular periods

Irregular periods make it a little tricky to track ovulation. Talk to your doctor about what you can do.

Sperm concern

walnuts sperm superfood
Male infertility can sometimes be the reason you’re not falling pregnant. Source: Bigstock

Male infertility could be the cause of conception concern. Most men don’t experience any symptoms to suggest something could be wrong with their swimmers which is why a trip to the doctor and a semen analysis may be needed.

Blocked Fallopian Tubes

If there is a blockage in the fallopian tubes, then this can cause fertility concerns. Only fertility testing can determine if this could be the issue.

Age-Related Infertility

Your biological clock is ticking… such an awful phrase but it is true. It can be harder for women over 35 and men over 40 to conceive. But certainly not impossible!

The reason for this is because around the age of 35 our egg quality and quantity start to decrease. Many women are actually looking at freezing their eggs in their 20s and early 30s just in case.

Medical conditions

Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid imbalance and depression can impact fertility as can autoimmune diseases such as lupus and even undiagnosed sexually-transmitted diseases.

Medications

This is also the case for certain medications which is why it’s important to discuss all medications with your doctor.

No explanation

Many couples don’t know why they can’t fall pregnant. All systems are a go but still, nothing.


Tips to help you fall pregnant

Dr Pickering shares the following tips on helping you improve the chance of conceiving and falling pregnant naturally:

Be healthy and stay healthy

Step away from the cake. For now. Making healthier food choices, monitoring your weight, exercising, and dropping unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking are important when TTC.

Consider taking prenatal vitamins like folic acid

This helps with preventing birth defects, specifically in a baby’s spine and brain, and iodine which is important for your baby’s brain development.

Moderate exercise

Now’s the time to get out and walk! Moderate exercise improves fertility.

Woman running, using watch to exercise, fitness

Keep your weight in check

Women who are overweight can have a higher risk of problems in fertility and pregnancy. However, this is also the case for women who are underweight.

General medical check-up

Your GP or obstetrician will review all medical conditions, update your vaccinations (rubella and chickenpox are of most importance at this point in time), do a general physical examination, carrier screening for risks of chromosomal or genetic conditions and review the outcomes of any previous pregnancies to determine whether they could reduce the chance of recurrence.

Don’t be afraid of your results – this is about ensuring a healthy future for your family!

Monitor your menstrual cycle and ovulation

A woman’s egg is only fertile for up to 12-24 hours after its release and sperm can live up to five days in the female reproductive tract. It can be helpful to monitor your period to predict when you’ll next be ovulating.

Check out our story on the best fertility apps to download.

Have sex 3-4 times a week between periods

The best time for you to be having sex to optimise the chances of conceiving is to have sex before you ovulate, not after. Having sex every other day during this fertility window raises your chance of getting pregnant.

If you want to take it easy by not having regular sex, that is fine, but pregnancy may take longer and there’s nothing wrong with that.


When to see a doctor

If you’ve been trying for six months (and you’re over 35) or 12 months (and under 35), then it may be time to have a chat with your doctor. However, there is no set time limit on this.

The golden rule is that if you’re unsure, seek professional advice,” Dr Pickering advises.

“For first-time parents wondering what’s normal and not normal in the process of falling pregnant naturally, or couples struggling to conceive, prenatal counselling is a great idea to ask all your questions, address all your fears and receive a customised plan that works for you.”


Real stories to read

IVF photoshoot
Photo: Life in Focus
Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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