Pregnancy and Childbirth When Should I Seek Out a Fertility Specialist? By UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, February 8, 2016 You’ve decided you want to get pregnant. You’ve stopped birth control. You have sex regularly. Maybe you’ve looked into some ovulation calendars or tests, but still nothing is happening. It’s common to be frustrated when you don’t get pregnant as soon as you’d hoped. You may begin to wonder whether you should see a doctor about your fertility. When Is It Time to Talk About Fertility Struggles? Most couples are able to conceive on their own within a year. However, if you’ve been having unprotected sex for a year or more and haven’t become pregnant, you may want to see if your doctor can refer you to a fertility specialist. For women age 35 or older, your chances of infertility increase. You’ll want to start a conversation with your doctor after six months of trying to conceive. Learn more about the comprehensive specialty care at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot, located in Erie, PA. If you have a medical condition that can lead to fertility problems such as endometriosis, fibroids, or previous cancer treatment, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before trying to get pregnant. You can work together to monitor your condition and look for any possible risks of infertility to get treatment quickly. What Causes Infertility? If you’re struggling to get pregnant, it can be because of a range of issues with the man or woman. Sometimes lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking, and poor diet can make it harder to get pregnant. In about 40 percent of couples with infertility, the woman has a medical condition. These include: Problems with ovulation Age Tubal abnormalities Uterine abnormalities Endometriosis Other medical issues Nearly half of all conception problems are because of male infertility. This usually means there’s a problem with his sperm, and this can be caused by: Antibodies Environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals Spending long periods of time in a hot tub Varioceles (varicose veins in the scrotum) How Do I Start Seeking Treatment? First, you’ll want to talk with your primary care physician or gynecologist about your concerns. Your provider can then refer you and your partner to a fertility specialist. When you meet with a specialist, he or she will review your medical history and perform diagnostic tests such as: Imaging scans Blood tests Semen analysis Once the specialist determines the cause of infertility, you can begin to talk about treatment options. You have many treatment options depending on the cause from ovulation induction to in vitro fertilization. These methods have been successful for many couples, and there is reason to hope for a successful pregnancy. Be sure to ask all the questions you need to at your early appointments, and always talk about cost. Fertility treatment can be expensive, so find out what it costs and what payment options the provider offers. To find more information on infertility, visit the Center for Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology website.