When to seek fertility help

It’s estimated that 1 out of 8 couples suffer from infertility. Infertility is a disease typically defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse. If you have been trying to conceive for a year or more, you should consider an infertility evaluation. However, if you are 35 years or older, you should consider beginning the infertility evaluation after about six months of unprotected intercourse rather than a year, so as not to delay potentially needed treatment. For those over 40, you should consider help after three months. And, if you have a reason to suspect an underlying problem, you should seek care earlier.

These are the most common reasons to see a specialist sooner than later:

•If you’ve been trying for over six months and the woman is over the age of 35. As a woman ages, the number of eggs in the ovary decreases. Reproductive age is one of the most significant factors in the ability to conceive.

•If you have very irregular menstrual cycles. This may suggest that you are not ovulating or releasing an egg and could be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS).

•If you have a history of miscarriages. Multiple miscarriages occur for a wide range of reasons and can include chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, or uterine or hormonal problems.

•A diagnosis of endometriosis.

•A history of pelvic surgery (such as the removal of an ovarian cyst or an ectopic pregnancy) or pelvic disease.

•A male with a low sperm count. Problems with the male partner involve approximately 40% of couples suffering from infertility.