You’ve been trying to get pregnant for several months with no success. You’ve tried tracking your fertile days, adopting healthier eating habits and even talking your partner out of wearing tighty-whities. But despite your best efforts—and all of the sex—your period is still showing up every month. At first, trying for a baby was fun, but now you’re starting to worry if you’ll ever see a positive pregnancy test.
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Get the facts before you freak out
“Many women worry too much at the beginning because they believe their chances of getting pregnant are nearly 100 percent when they’re much, much less,” says Beth Taylor, an OB/GYN at Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver. “Plus, their friends who do get pregnant right away always tell everyone.” And, of course, couples who take a while to get pregnant rarely brag about it, so this can leave mom-to-be-hopefuls with the idea that it’s easy to conceive.
According to a 2017 poll by Fertility Matters Canada, one in four Canadians mistakenly believes they have more than a 50 percent chance of getting pregnant every month when they have unprotected sex. In fact, the reality is that, if you’re under 40, your chances of conceiving are just 15 to 20 percent each cycle. No wonder so many couples are disappointed after just a few months of trying.
A certain amount of worry is a normal part of the process, says Taylor. But getting too worked up can actually be bad for baby making. There are several studies that show that women who report feeling stressed out take longer to get pregnant. Arming yourself with the facts—and realistic expectations—will keep you feeling positive about your prospects of parenthood.
The odds are in your favour
The good news: It might not happen right away, but most couples who are trying to conceive do get pregnant. About 50 percent have happy news within six months, while 85 percent are pregnant within a year of trying. The remaining 15 percent are still likely to get pregnant, but they may require medication to stimulate ovulation or other assistance to make it happen.
If you and your partner are both healthy but over 35 and have been trying for six months without success, get a referral to a fertility clinic. “If you’re under 35, wait until you’ve been trying for at least nine months to ask your doctor for a referral,” says Taylor. (Some experts recommend waiting a full year, but Taylor points out that it can take a few months to get a referral and an appointment, so you might as well get the ball rolling a bit sooner.) A fertility specialist will begin with a basic blood workup to assess hormone levels that are important for conception, including estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and progesterone. Further tests typically include a sperm test on your partner and a hysterosalpingogram to look at your uterine cavity for abnormalities.
A bit of worry can be good
If you have reason to believe that there might be cause for concern, don’t wait to get help. If you have irregular, absent or really painful periods or had surgery on your uterus or fallopian tubes, talk to your doctor right away. You may need to see a fertility specialist for some help getting pregnant.
It’s common for some couples to take a bit longer to get pregnant—this doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything wrong. “If you’re having a period every month and both partners are healthy, don’t worry,” says Taylor. Rushing to a fertility clinic won’t guarantee that you’ll see a positive reading on a pregnancy test any sooner.
“If the testing is normal and you’ve been trying for less than a year, we’ll often just suggest to keep trying,” she says. Stay positive and, chances are, you’ll be planning your bump reveal before you know it!