As we age, our chances of pregnancy go down.
“With normal reproductive function, around age 25, you can expect a 25 percent chance of pregnancy with each cycle for the first six months of trying to become pregnant,” says Dr. George Attia, director of the UHealth Reproductive and Fertility Center at the University of Miami Health System. “By age 35: the probability of pregnancy with each cycle drops to 10-15 percent,” he says. Women over 40 who want to know more about any health concerns involved in getting pregnant should consult their doctor.
If you don’t become pregnant within six months, especially if you are above the age of 35, he says, it would be helpful to have a consult with a fertility specialist. During that consult, you will most likely have:
- A detailed personal and family history to look for conditions such as endometriosis, hormone imbalance, or polycystic ovarian syndrome or others that cause infertility
- A check of your hormone levels
- An X-ray of the fallopian tubes
- A vaginal ultrasound to look at your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus
About 30 to 35 percent of fertility issues stem from the male partner. Your fertility specialist will ask questions about your sexual history with your partner and obtain a semen specimen from him for analysis.
Increasing your chances
After collecting all the information, your fertility specialist and you will work out a plan. Ideally, the information collected will help you and your partner improve your chances of pregnancy naturally by making you aware of factors you can change, such as your timing of intercourse, monitoring ovulation, or other changes.
If that doesn’t work, your doctor may want to give you medication to stimulate ovulation. From there you may elect to move on to more advanced techniques such as:
- Intrauterine insemination: This fertility treatment involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and the eggs and as a result it can increase the chance of pregnancy.
- In-vitro fertilization: During IVF, mature eggs are collected from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus.
There are many other advanced procedures that will increase your chance of getting pregnant. That’s why, says Dr. Attia, working with a reputable fertility center is so important. They have tools to personalize fertility care to the individual couple.
Mary Jo Blackwood, RN, MPH, is a contributing writer for the UMiami Health News Blog. Based in St. Louis, MO, and Colorado, she writes medical articles and webpages for consumer publications and major university health centers.