When do I ask for help?
How long should we keep trying naturally is one of the most common questions we get asked by people who are not sure why things aren't working the way they think they should. And it's not just us, start typing the question into Google and it autopopulates, delivering more than six million results.
Those Google results (and the friends and family you ask) will all have different opinions about how long you should try to conceive naturally before seeking help. The commonly accepted timeframe amongst medical professionals is that you should seek help if you haven't conceived after 12 months of regular, unprotected sex. If you are over 35, you should talk to a fertility specialist after six months of trying (regular, unprotected sex).
This is definitely what we advise too but it ignores some of the other factors that you should consider alongside
How are you "trying"?
While trying to conceive naturally it's a good idea to give yourself the best chance possible by having sex at the right time.
To make sure you are having sex at the right time you need to work out when the woman is ovulating. There are a couple of ways to do that. You can use the ovulation calculator on our website which will give you a good guide or you can use the more precise method of blood tests to pinpoint your exact day of ovulation and be advised when to have sex.
Most women typically ovulate 14 days before their next period starts. If you have a regular cycle length of 28 days, you will ovulate mid-cycle or 14 days after day one of your previous period. If your cycle is usually longer, say 34 days, ovulation occurs around 20 days after day one of a period - not mid-cycle.
Some women know when they are ovulating from changes in their body and the way they feel. Typical signs include breast soreness, heavier and more opaque vaginal discharge and a feeling of tightness in your abdomen. However, many women experience no noticeable symptoms.
What do you do with all of this information and how does it help? Well you may not know this, but sperm can survive inside a woman for three or four days after ejaculation. So, if you plan to have regular sex (two to three times a week) around ovulation there is a good chance that there will be some sperm there to meet your egg when it arrives (it takes the egg between 12 and 24 hours to make its way through the fallopian tube after ovulation). The absolute best chance of conception comes when a couple have sex one to two days before ovulation and one day after.
That's not working, now what?
One of the challenges with conception is that you can be doing all of this but on the inside a myriad of other issues could be stopping you from getting pregnant. As you can probably imagine spending 12 months trying naturally only to discover that you weren't actually ovulating or that your partner’s sperm isn't working to the best of its ability and it was never going to happen without some sort of help would be extremely frustrating.
The solution there is to get a pre-conception check up.
Speak to your GP or make an appointment with Genea's Fertility GP to make sure that everything is in working order and that you are both ready to conceive. These checks are simple and painless and can give you the peace of mind that you're on the right track.
Exceptions to the rule
If you or your partner have an existing medical condition that might interfere with conception, it's a good idea to speak to a fertility specialist earlier rather than later. Perhaps you've struggled with endometriosis or maybe your partner already knows that there are some issues with his sperm. If that's the case then your best course of action is to make an appointment with a Genea Fertility Specialist and get their advice on the way forward. Seeing a Fertility Specialist is not a fast track to IVF, in fact, approximately 50 per cent of couples who talk to a Fertility Specialist at Genea do not need to have any form of IVF to successfully take home a healthy baby.
The other exception to the rule and possibly the most important piece of advice we can give you is - if you are worried or if trying to get pregnant is causing you stress then that's when you should seek help regardless of how many weeks or months it has been.
If you'd just like to talk through these options to figure out your next move, give our Fertility Advisor a call for a free, no obligation chat.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is a Genea Group blog and as such information may not be relevant for all clinics. We advise that you consult clinics directly for further information.