15 in 100 couples
in Australia are affected by infertility
Infertility usually refers to when a couple have been unable to get pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, or it is taking longer than you expected, your GP can provide advice and work out if there is anything that may be affecting your chances of having a baby.
PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY
If you and your partner are thinking of starting a family, it is important to make an appointment with your GP.
Your GP will perform a general health check before looking at specific factors that can affect your fertility. For women, they will make sure that you are up to date with your cervical screening and assess any medications that you are currently on.
They may screen for infectious diseases such as rubella, chicken pox, Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.
Sexually transmitted diseases can affect male and female fertility, so it is important to test both you and your partner before you start trying to conceive.
Your GP can also recommend any lifestyle changes that may increase your chances of falling pregnant, such as quitting smoking, diet, fitness, and reducing alcohol intake.
There are also steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your baby developing an illness such as taking folate and iodine. A healthy lifestyle is important for both partners.
When it comes to getting pregnant, timing is everything. Your GP can help identify the best time for you to have sexual intercourse every month to maximise your chances of conceiving.
If your period is quite regular, count back 14 days from your cycles usual first day to calculate your ovulation day.
You and your partner should aim to have unprotected sex every second day during your fertile window, focusing on the two days prior to ovulation.
WHY CAN’T I GET PREGNANT?
For both men and women there are many causes of infertility. We are born with some and others are acquired over time. In 40% of cases the cause of infertility is caused by a sperm factor, in another 40% the cause is the female reproductive system. A third will have a combination of both male a female factors. The first step to helping you conceive is finding out what the problem is.
Some common fertility issues for women and men include:
Irregular periods that may be related to ovulation disorders
Gynaecological conditions - Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis
Blocked fallopian tubes
Sexually transmitted infections
Weight and general health
Abnormal sperm production
Blocked/absent vas deferens (tubes)
The presence of sperm antibodies
If you have been trying to conceive for some time your GP will look for any signs of the health issues above, and may request some additional tests such as:
Egg count (AMH) test
Full blood count to determine blood group
A semen analysis which measures the number of sperm in a sample.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR LOCAL RURAL GP
Your GP is ready for any fertility concerns you may have. There is no time too early to be examined in your fertility journey.
It is particularly important to consult your GP if you are under 35 years old and haven’t fallen pregnant after 12 months of trying, over 35 years old and haven’t fallen pregnant after 6 months of trying or have a history of conditions which may affect fertility such endometriosis or pelvic infection.