KEY POINTS :
- There are many kinds of fertility treatment that can help women get pregnant. Talk to your health care provider to find out if one is right for you.
- Fertility treatment can cause complications, like getting pregnant with twins or more, having premature birth and having a baby with birth defects.
- If you need fertility treatment, there are ways to help you get pregnant with just one baby. This can help reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
- Things like smoking and weight can affect your fertility. Making certain changes in your life may help you get pregnant without fertility treatment.
What is fertility treatment?
Many women need special medical treatment to help them get pregnant. This kind of treatment is called fertility treatment.
Infertility is when you’re not able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of having unprotected sex.
For pregnancy to happen, sperm from a male needs to be joined with an egg from a female. For many couples without infertility, this may happen when:
- A woman’s body releases an egg from one of her ovaries (also called ovulation)
- A man’s sperm joins the egg along the way (also called fertilize)
- The fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb)
- The fertilized egg attaches to the inside of the uterus (implantation)
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 or 4 months, keep trying. It may just take more time, even longer than you think it should. You may want to think about fertility treatment if:
- You’re younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year.
- You’re 35 or older and have been trying to get pregnant for at least 6 months.
- You’re trying to get pregnant and you have irregular, very painful or no periods.
- You’re trying to get pregnant and you have conditions like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or a past miscarriage.
- You and your partner think there may be a male factor (like a history of testicular trauma or past infertility with another partner).
Talk to your health care provider if you think you may need fertility treatment.
How can you find out if you need fertility treatment?
If you think you and your partner may need treatment to help you get pregnant, here’s what you can do:
- Talk to your health care provider. You can see a prenatal care provider, like an obstetrician or a midwife, who takes care of pregnant women. Or you can see a fertility specialist (also called a reproductive endocrinologist). This is a doctor who’s an expert in helping women get pregnant.
- Tell your provider about your family health history. This is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had. Be sure to tell your provider if you’ve been pregnant before and about any children you’ve had.
- Make changes in your life that may help you get pregnant without treatment. For example, things like smoking, being over- or underweight, drinking too much caffeine and taking certain medicines can affect you and your partner’s fertility and make it harder for you to get pregnant. Even using a hot tub can affect fertility in men because high temperatures affect sperm movement.
- Keep track of your periods to find out when you ovulate. Ovulation is when your ovary releases an egg into your fallopian tubes. The time you ovulate usually happens in the middle of your menstrual cycle or halfway between the start of your periods. To find out when you ovulate, write down when your period starts each month and how long it lasts. Or use our online ovulation calendar. Knowing when you ovulate helps you know the best times of the month to have sex with your partner to try and get pregnant.
Your provider may give you and your partner medical tests to find out if you may need treatment. For example, your provider may:
- Want your partner to get his sperm tested to make sure it’s healthy. This is called a semen analysis. Your provider can tell him where to get this test.
- Give you some tests to make sure there are no problems with your fallopian tubes or uterus. If your tubes are blocked or if there are problems with your uterus, you may have trouble getting pregnant. You may be able to get treatment to fix these problems. After these tests, you, your partner and your provider can decide about fertility treatment.