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Trying to conceive: when to seek medical advice?

11 November 2019

If you've been having problems conceiving, you may be wondering “when should I seek medical advice?”. Even though it’s normal for some pregnancies to take a while, there are some circumstances when you should see a doctor.

How long should I try to conceive before seeking medical advice?

If you are considering getting pregnant, you can speak with your GP straight away. The doctor will be able to give you pre-pregnancy advice, suggest what supplements to take and what strategies you can use to maximise your chances of a natural pregnancy. This ensures you are in the best possible health before conceiving.

If you are under 35, and have been trying to conceive for a year, with regular unprotected sex you should consider seeing the doctor. If you or your partner are under 35 and have conditions such as irregular cycles or absent periods, a history of PCOS, endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections, varicocele, repeated miscarriages or family history of infertility, it may be best to seek medical advice after six months of trying. 

If you are over 35, you should consider seeing the doctor after six months of trying to conceive. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem, as many people may take several years to naturally conceive. However, as fertility reduces with age, it’s good to seek medical advice early so you can consider alternative treatment.

What happens when you seek medical advice for the first time?

The first point of contact will be your GP. It’s a good idea to attend the appointment with your partner as around 50% of fertility problems are related to male factors, and some questions will be specific to your partner. 

The doctor will ask questions about your cycles, how long you have been trying to conceive and how regular you have sex. The doctor will also ask about your lifestyle, eating disorders, alcohol, smoking and weight. A history of sexually transmitted infections or repeated miscarriages is also useful information. If you are tracking your cycles with myLotus, the doctor can use this information to better inform his diagnosis.

The GP may request further tests, for example, sperm analysis or a blood test to check your hormones. Depending on the results of these tests, the doctor may refer you to a fertility specialist for further support and tests.

 How can I get ready to seek medical advice?

If you have been trying to conceive for a while but not long enough to get medical advice, there are a few things you can do.

Becoming more aware of your body and its cycles and time matching intercourse with ovulation will increase your chances of getting pregnant. You can use myLotus to identify your fertile window. It will help you see if you have irregular cycles or if your luteal phase isn’t long enough. Gathering this information will be useful when seeing the doctor. Some doctors may even consider starting investigations and tests earlier if you have this information.

You can also start taking important pre-pregnancy supplements, like Folic Acid, and maintain a healthy balanced diet. Adjusting lifestyle habits like stopping smoking, and reduced caffeine intake will also help improve your chances of a natural pregnancy. Moderate exercise will keep your body healthy and mobile and help maintain a healthy weight. 

5 Questions to ask your doctor when you're trying to get pregnant

1. Diagnosis

What is my diagnosis, how does it affect my fertility and how does it progress over time? If the reason is unclear, what tests can I do? Are there any risks associated with these tests?

2. Treatment options

What fertility treatments are available? What are the risks associated with these treatments? What is the success rate?

3. My fertility plan

What treatment would you advise first? What is the likelihood of this treatment working? Where can I get emotional support?

4. Increasing my chances

What can I do in terms of lifestyle, habits and environment to improve my chances?

5. Cost

How much does the treatment cost? Does my insurance cover it? If I have to pay out of pocket, do you offer any payment plans?

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