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Problems Getting Pregnant

What is Infertility?

Infertility is defined as a couple not conceiving after 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. If you are over 35, we bring that forward to 6 months of trying for conception.

One in six couples experience infertility issues.  Traditionally we believe male and female fertility problems account for around 40% each of difficulties couples experience when trying for a baby, while in about 20% of cases it is a combination of both.  The more I work with fertility though, the more I believe it is rare to be only one thing, and our job is to check all factors for infertility.

Not being able to conceive as quickly as hoped can bring frustration and worry. 

It’s important to know that with fertility, there is no “one plan fits all” and while many people’s first thought is IVF, it’s not the only option and there might just be another solution.

Why Aren’t I Getting Pregnant?

There can be a variety of reasons that cause a delay in falling pregnant.  They can involve either the male or female, or a combination of factors. There could be problems with:

  • The production of sperm or eggs
  • The structure or function of male or female reproductive systems;
  • Hormonal and immune conditions in both men and women.

Some of the most common causes of fertility issues include:

Existing medical conditions

There are a number of different reasons why some women are unable to conceive – and many of these are because of common gynaecological issues. The good news is that in most cases, there are treatments available to resolve the problem in order to achieve pregnancy.

Age and infertility

As a general rule, one of the first areas we look at is female age.

A woman is born with all the eggs for her lifetime.  As women age, this affects the quality of the eggs and the ability to conceive.

It is widely accepted that assisted reproductive technology can’t compensate for the natural decline of fertility as a woman ages.

  • For women, up to and including age 35, fertility rates decline continuously, but not significantly. Age 35 is the alert that fertility should be taken seriously.
  • They will decline, however, between 35 and 40, and this should be seen as our window of opportunity for fertility.
  • After 40 there is a rapid decline in fertility
  • Almost minimal fertility after 43.

For men, while sperm production can affect fertility, and mens age does affect sperm quality, it is not as significant as egg age.

Irregular or no periods

If you have infrequent or occasional periods, or no periods at all, you may have an ovulation dysfunction. Hormone levels can cause this, or there could be a physical factor such as ovarian cysts.

Irregular periods make it difficult to calculate your fertile window, and if you are not ovulating often, you will have reduced opportunities to conceive.

Gynaecological conditions and infertility

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis are both common medical conditions that can affect a woman’s day-to-day activities, as well as her fertility.  Dr Flynn is very experienced in treating both of these conditions.

Blocked tubes

Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes can be a result of infection, inflammatory conditions or endometriosis. If the tubes become blocked this may stop the sperm meeting the egg which prevents a woman becoming pregnant.

Male tubes within the testes can also be blocked because of structural problems such as previous surgery (vasectomy) or genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis. This may result in sperm is not being able to meet and fertilise an egg

Varicoceles are varicose or large veins in the male scrotum.  These may also affect fertility

Problem with Sperm

There are several problems that can occur with sperm that might affect the woman’s chance of getting pregnant.  The sperm count (the number of sperm per ml of semen), sperm motility (the way the sperm moves or swims) and sperm shape can all impact on the chance of a woman becoming pregnant.

When is the right time to start investigations for infertility?

If you are having trouble falling pregnant we recommend you visit your doctor and ask for a referral to Dr Flynn for a preconception consult.

At your first appointment Dr Flynn will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy and comprehensively assess your current fertility. You shouldn’t delay seeing a fertility specialist if:

  • You have been trying to get pregnant for 12 months or more.
  • You are a woman that does not have periods or has irregular periods
  • You are a woman 35 or over and have been trying for 6 months

If you know or suspect that a gynaecological condition or a male fertility issue could be contributing to your problems getting pregnant, then we recommend making an appointment to see Dr Flynn and start getting the answers you need.

By identifying any possible reasons contributing to the delay, you can then explore ways to improve your chances of falling pregnant.

It is important that you obtain a referral from your GP before your appointment, that way you will be eligible for Medicare rebates.

If you are seeing Dr Flynn as a couple, your referral should have both names of the people attending the appointment

Ask your GP for a referral to Dr Michael Flynn - print this Referral Request and hand it to your GP.

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