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When is it time to talk about IVF and other medical help?

18 December 2020

Guidance on when to seek extra help, and how to access it.

If you have been trying to conceive for a while without success, you may be wondering when should I seek medical help? Even though it’s normal to take a while to get pregnant, there are some circumstances when you should see a doctor. In this article we explain when you should seek extra help, and how to access it.

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, what supplements to take and what strategies you can use to maximise your chances. This ensures you are in the best possible health before conceiving.

If you are under 35, you should see the doctor after trying to conceive for a year, with regular unprotected sex. If you or your partner are under 35 but have any risk factors, like irregular or absent periods, history of PCOS, endometriosis, sexually transmitted infections, varicocele, repeated miscarriages or family history of infertility, seek medical advice after 6 months of trying.

If you are over 35, you should see the doctor after six months of trying to conceive. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem, as many people will end up conceiving in a year or two. However, as fertility reduces with age, it’s good to seek medical advice early so you can consider treatment. 

Despite these timeframes, some couples will try to conceive without medical help longer than they need to. If you have any of the risk factors, contact your doctor.

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 factor and some questions will be targeted at him.

The doctor will ask you questions about your cycles, how long you have been trying and the timing of intercourse. The doctor will also ask about your lifestyle and habits, alcohol, smoking and weight. A past history of sexually transmitted infections or repeated miscarriages is also useful information. If you are tracking your cycles with myLotus, the doctor will use this useful information to consider what might be the problem.

The GP might request some tests, like a sperm analysis and bloods to check your hormones. Depending on the results of these tests, the doctor might refer you to the fertility specialist for further support and investigations.

How can I get ready to seek medical advice?

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

Becoming more aware of your body and cycles and timing sex to ovulation, will increase your chances of getting pregnant. You can use myLotus to identify your fertile window. It will also help you see if you are not ovulating regularly or if your luteal phase isn’t long enough for example. Gathering this information will be useful to when you see 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 have a healthy balanced diet. Adjusting habits like smoking, caffeine, drugs can also help you get ready for pregnancy. Moderate exercise will keep your body moving and maintain a healthy weight. 

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