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Are you having trouble conceiving and are wondering if you have an infertility problem?

Of the approximately 60 million women of reproductive age in 1995, about 1.2 million, or 2% had had an infertility-related medical appointment within the previous year, and an additional 13% had received infertility services at some time in their lives. (Infertility services include medical tests to diagnose infertility, medical advice and treatments to help a woman become pregnant and services other than routine prenatal care to prevent miscarriage.) Additionally, 7% of married couples in which the woman was of reproductive age (2.1 million couples) reported they had not used contraception for 12 months and had not become pregnant.

Many couples spend months and years trying to get pregnant without success. For many women, a visit to their Ob/Gyn is an annual event, primarily for a check-up or a pap smear. For many men, the idea that they may have an infertility problem of their own would be a surprise. There are a multitude of reasons why some couples have difficulty getting pregnant. Some are indeed medical, some are practical or technical, some nutritional, and some emotional. Most can be helped. The resources starting at this page will help you to get started.

How long should it take to get pregnant?
How do I find a good Obstetrician/Gynecologist (Ob/Gyn)?
Should I visit my Ob/Gyn on my own?
What information will I need to give my OB/Gyn?
I've been going to the same Ob/Gyn for a long time and I'm still not getting pregnant. What should I do?
What drugs can I take to improve my chances of getting pregnant?
What factors can affect my ability to get pregnant?
Could I or my partner be infertile?
What options are open to me if I am diagnosed with an infertility problem?

How long should it take to get pregnant?

There is no "right answer to this question. If, after a year of trying, a couple has not conceived, a basic infertility evaluation may be started. In situations where the female partner is over 30 or has a medical history or irregular periods, pelvic infections, surgery, pregnancy losses or DES (diethylstilbestrol) exposure, an infertility examination should start earlier. "Too long" for most couples can also be when one or both of you reach a point of frustration that makes the joy of trying to conceive become a chore or emotionally testing. For most women, conception is possible up to your early or mid-forties. You may also have read true stories about older women conceiving. There is really no age limit for men. The real answer to this question is in your hands, supported by your Ob/Gyn.

How do I find a good Ob/Gyn?

There are several different ways but you're likely to be most comfortable with a referral from a friend or a family member. A visit to the gynecologist is a very personal thing and you want to be comfortable with your doctor. Are you comfortable with a doctor of either gender or would you really prefer a female? What times of day will you need to visit? Are you the type of person who is comfortable being very open about sexual and reproductive matters or would you rather the doctor were more discrete? Are your religious beliefs a major factor in determining your reproductive health? If you are new to an area and don't know anyone well enough to ask, look up Medical Practitioners/Gynecologists in the yellow pages or ask your regular physician. Feel free to join our organization where many members will be able to help you. Most important, if you're having trouble conceiving, find an Ob/Gyn and start there.

Should I visit my Ob/Gyn on my own?

At RESOLVE, we recognize that both couples and single people seek the joys of parenthood. If you can, we recommend you involve your partner in all of your efforts to become a parent. Especially if you are new to an area or just beginning your journey with an Ob/Gyn, a partner's comforting presence at your appointment can be a great help - most Ob/Gyn's welcome both partners to office visits. If your partner can't make it, a friend or family member you are close to can be supportive too. Of course, you may prefer to be alone.

What information will I need to give my OB/Gyn?

Apart from the normal personal information you'd give your doctor, you'll need to be ready with the following:
" Normal menstrual cycle and recent history,
" How long you've been trying to get pregnant,
" Reproductive history,
" Your own and your immediate family's medical history (special attention will be paid to previous surgery, infections, chronic illness and hospitalization),
" Lifestyle information about smoking, alcohol intake, medications, exposure to environmental or occupational toxins,
" Things you and your partner have tried to resolve your difficulty in conceiving,
" Details of previous infertility tests from other care providers.

I've been going to the same Ob/Gyn. for a long time and I'm still not getting pregnant. What should I do?

If you have been visiting regularly and have been following your Ob/Gyn's advice and instructions and you and your partner feel you're not making progress, first you may want to discuss your opinions and feelings with your Ob/Gyn. It's important that your doctor understands your expectations and needs and aligns them with his or her treatment: it's important to know that your expectations are realistic. If your doctor does not recommend additional treatment, he or she will explain their reasons. If you feel these explanations are not satisfactory, you are within your rights to change doctors or to approach an infertility clinic that specializes in improving your chances of getting pregnant. Your doctor may have you try some preliminary tests like ovulation monitoring, blood work etc. On the other hand, your doctor may give you the "don't worry, you're young and healthy" or "just relax" message. Either of these messages is less than ideal. The attitude and expertise of an infertility specialist can make the difference between years of infertility and early pregnancy.
You may wish to consider joining one of our support groups where other members can share their experiences and help you to deal with decisions like this.


What drugs can I take to improve my chances of getting pregnant?

There are many drugs that can help you conceive. Your physician or Ob/Gyn will be able to determine which drugs are right for your situation and which ones work together to improve your chances of becoming pregnant. RESOLVE does not recommend specific drugs or drug treatments nor do we provide original information about drugs or drug therapies. There are some concerns about some drug treatments increasing your chances of multiple births. You should discuss this with your physician if you have concerns. You may want to take a look at an article in the July 2000 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that addresses this issue. RESOLVE of Greater Los Angeles provides an excellent summary and some conclusions from the article. You can reach a summary of the article from the the Greater
LA site but to read the whole study, you need to order it or subscribe to the NEJM.

For further information order the following Fact Sheets from RESOLVE National:

#9
Infertility as a chronic illness and post traumatic stress disorder
#14
Sex, Marriage and Infertility
#15
Coping with the stress of Infertility
#16
Selecting an Infertility Physician
#19
Hyperprolactinemia (Bromocriptine, Parlodel™): Prolactin Problems
#20.
Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid™, Serophene™)
#21.
DES: Its Impact on Infertility
#22.
GnRH Agonists (e.g. Lupron™, Synarel™): Role in Infertility
#23.
Superovulatory Drugs: hMG, hCG, and FSH
#28
The impact of environmental factors, body weight and exercise on infertility
#30
The role of infections in infertility and pregnancy loss
#47
The Basic Infertility Evaluation

What factors can affect my ability to get pregnant?

Stress, diet, lifestyle, environment, relationship issues and spirituality can all affect your ability to get pregnant, either positively or negatively. There are also many fact sheets that can be purchased for a minimal fee that provide you with guidance on questions to ask yourself about all of these issues.

Could I or my partner be infertile?

One in six couples in America trying to create biological families suffer some form of infertility problem. These problems can relate to either partner - they are just as likely to relate to the man as to the woman. Of couples in the US diagnosed with some type of infertility problem, 50% have male infertility issues. If you have been trying for 12 months (or 6 months if you're over 30) to get pregnant, you should ask your Ob/Gyn for information about testing. Tests are available for both partners and, in most cases, testing is advisable for both.


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