Anxiety about conception is normal, particularly as many couples have spent most of their sexual lives trying to avoid pregnancy and can therefore overestimate just how easy it is to conceive. However, it’s important to give natural pregnancy the best possible chance and avoid coming to a fertility clinic too soon.
Our staff members are happy to answer questions over the ‘phone and that can include discussions about how long you have been trying and whether it is worth trying naturally for a little longer. Whilst we will never prevent you seeing one of our doctors, we try to make you aware if you have not tried to conceive naturally for long enough (for example), and therefore may be better off delaying treatment until you are certain that you have trouble conceiving. Here are some things you need to do before you attend a fertility clinic to ensure that you are ready to conceive and that you are genuinely having conception problems.
Try to Conceive Naturally
The majority (84%) of couples will conceive naturally within one year if they have unprotected sex every 2-3 days at the right time in the month. This is the optimum frequency for both good sperm quality and ensuring that fertilisation is likely. We strongly recommend trying for one year before coming to a doctor to discuss fertility – some couples feel they may have problems after 6-7 months, but it’s perfectly normal for it to take several cycles to conceive.
If you are over 36 or already aware that you may have fertility issues, then it’s a good idea to see a doctor sooner. Otherwise, try to relax and see whether you can conceive within a year or so.
Reduce Infertility Factors
Before or while you try to conceive, it’s also a good idea to boost your chances of conception by reducing risk factors in your life. This may include losing or gaining weight, drinking less, quitting smoking, or reducing stress at work.
Maintaining a healthy body is just as important for a successful pregnancy as it is for the initial conception, so preparing for your pregnancy properly gives you the best chance of having a healthy child.
As well as improving your lifestyle, when you decide to conceive it’s a good idea to screen for infection – even if you have had regular tests in the past, as many disease have incubation periods and may not be picked up in a first test after exposure. Most standard test at sexual health clinics will cover Chlamydia and HIV, but you will need to request hepatitis testing specifically. It’s also best to be up to date with your cervical screening, especially since you will need to wait for your next screening until after you have given birth. When having fertility treatment for the first time, certain viral screens are mandatory (for HIV, Hep B and C) and these must be done no more than 3 months before your actual IUI or IVF cycle starts. We cannot treat you if you have an active infection so if you think you are at risk it may be worth you checking these and STI’s before you contact us.
Unless you suspect a specific condition, it is not usually worthwhile for you to analyse your hormone levels in the months before you see us. You will need an ultrasound scan anyway, the doctor will order only the blood tests that are necessary, and we will control your cycle if you have fertility treatment.