Fertility problems are shockingly common: For every seven couples trying to have a baby, one couple will not have conceived after a year. It’s a heart-wrenching issue, and there are still many things experts don’t know – for instance, when a woman is infertile, 30% of the time doctors can’t figure out why. Still, information is a couple’s best tool, followed closely by support. So, as National Infertility Awareness Month draws to a close, here are five steps that offer a little of both.
1. Learn What Can Cause Infertility: There’s a lot that has to happen for sperm and egg to meet and merge. Unfortunately, that means there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. A woman’s fertility is particularly affected by the passage of time, says Evelyn Minaya, MD, because her eggs have existed – and have been aging – ever since her own birth. Men don’t have that issue, since they’re constantly creating new sperm, but there is a slew of potential obstacles that can get in the way of success for those swimmers. As a result, up to 30% of fertility problems originate with the couple’s male partner; read what our experts have to say about infertility in men.
2. Know How to Boost Fertility Naturally: If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, give yourself a lifestyle checkup to make sure you’re not getting in your own way. For men, adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet (in food or supplements) may help. Both of you might benefit from watching a funny movie – for men and women alike, laughter, meditation and other stress-busters can increase the likelihood of conception.
3. Get a Sense of How Long Is Too Long: Your high school health teacher may have told you that it takes only once to get pregnant – but as Evelyn Minaya, MD, explains in this video, you shouldn’t panic if you don’t get pregnant right away. In fact, she says, most couples should try for at least a year to conceive naturally before calling a fertility specialist, though the timing varies with age.
4. Don’t Jump to Conclusions: If it is time for a specialist, says Margaret McKenzie, MD, the first step will be a thorough evaluation. As John Jain, MD, notes, there are many potential treatments for infertility, and it’s key to get the right one for your particular problem.
5. You’re Not Alone: Infertility is a complex and emotional issue, and it helps to connect with people who understand what you’re going through. And if you need some help starting a sensitive conversation – or would like to gently educate a friend or loved one about what you’re going through – consider sharing this blog post. It’s a great icebreaker.