December 18, 2018| Health and Wellbeing /

Trying for a baby can be the most exciting time in a couple’s lives, but for those facing infertility it can be frustrating, exhausting and downright heartbreaking. There are so many reasons for infertility; some are temporary and some are permanent, and so many can go undiagnosed for years without specialist attention.

So, where do you start?

Well, the rule of thumb is to see a doctor after 12 months of trying naturally, or six months if you’re over 35. If you’ve already been diagnosed with potential fertility issues or a reproductive condition it would be a good idea to see your doctor, gynaecologist, or local women’s health clinic before trying to conceive.

While infertility can feel isolating, it’s actually quite common, affecting one in six couples. This statistic doesn’t make it easier for couples struggling to conceive, especially when it can feel like everyone around you is getting pregnant without trying, but it means there’s a lot of support out there, and doctors are really familiar with reproductive conditions, so you’ll get the right help sooner.

Science and medicine are rapidly improving to increase the likelihood of pregnancy in couples facing infertility. State of the art digital imaging technologies used at Number 1 Fertility such as IVF time-lapse imaging incubators and Intracytoplasmic Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI) support the selection of the best quality embryos and sperm for implantation.
— Dr Lynn Burmeister, Medical Director, Number 1 Fertility

Statistically, infertility is fairly evenly split, with four in 10 couples having sperm issues - which works out to be one in 35 men facing some form of infertility, and one in 25 with low sperm counts. Women also make up around 40% of infertility cases and can include problems such as:

  • Ovulation problems

  • Fibroids

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

  • Problems with fallopian tubes

  • Problems with the uterus

  • Endometriosis

The other 20%? That can be made up of a mix of the two or something else entirely, sometimes infertility can’t be explained and there isn’t a diagnosed reason for it. While there are some things that are outside of our control, there’s a lot that you can have an impact on:

  • Not smoking

  • Not taking any illicit drugs

  • Reducing the amount of coffee, and other caffeinated drinks (Sorry, it’s true!)

  • Reducing alcohol consumption

  • Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight

  • Track your ovulation and periods as best you can

  • Having sex at the right time, and yes there is a right time. During ovulation a day or two either side gives you the best odds of getting pregnant.

Your age also plays a big factor in getting pregnant; if you’re in your 30’s or 40’s it’s going to be harder for you so seek help sooner and if you’re still in your 20’s don’t put off getting help if you’ve tried for more than 12 months to conceive.

Even between the ages of 25 and 35 there’s only about a 20% chance of falling pregnant each cycle, so if you don’t fall pregnant straight away don’t worry that you might never have children or that there is something wrong with you, just be aware of where and when to seek help.
— Dr Lynn Burmeister, Medical Director, Number 1 Fertility

Epworth offers a range of women’s health and fertility services like IVF through Number 1 Fertility and the Women’s Health Clinic at Epworth Geelong. The Women’s Health Clinic is a great starting point if you’re planning for pregnancy and can provide a referral if you require specialist fertility support.

Sarah Stanley


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