Does it feel like you’ve been trying to get pregnant forever while all your friends seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat and the media taunts you by constantly showing you pictures of smiling babies? It did for me. It led to many sleepless nights asking myself the question ‘Why am I not getting pregnant?’
Once you have made that exciting decision to have a baby, it is perfectly normal for you to want to get pregnant as quickly as possible. Any delay and naturally you are going to start having doubts about yours or your partner’s fertility. But what is normal, how do you find out if something is wrong and what can you do to speed things up?
In this section, I answer those questions and provide some useful tips to help increase your chances of conception. I have broken these down into the topics which I have listed below. If you wish to jump straight to a topic, simply click on it in the list.
- What Is Normal? – How long does the typical couple take to get pregnant
- Let’s Talk About Sex – Is there such a thing as too much or too little sex
- Maximise Your Fertility – Tips to improve your conception chances
- Why am I not pregnant? – Could something be medically wrong
- Seeking Professional Help – Who to first see and why
- Fertility Treatment – Learn what can be done to help and where to start
What is normal?
When I had sex education at school, it seemed to be geared towards teaching you how not to get pregnant. This gave the impression that the first time you had unprotected sex, you would be “preggers”, as my old class mates would put it.
This kind of false expectation leads a lot of couples to believe there is a problem when none exists. Just so you know, this is what is normal:
- The typical couple have a 20% chance of conceiving every month that they are having unprotected sex
- Typical couples have an 80% to become pregnant in the first 12 months of trying
To put it another way, 1 in 5 couples do not get pregnant in the first year. So, providing you don’t have any obvious medical conditions, then there is no need to start worrying and asking yourself the question ‘Why am I not getting pregnant?’ But there are some things you can do to boost your chances of getting pregnant more quickly.
Let’s talk about sex
Having regular sex is vital to getting pregnant, but too little and too much can affect your chances. I’ll cover both, but first I’ll start with having too much sex, as in my experience, this is the one that couples are least likely to be aware of.
Having Too Much Sex
It takes men a while to build up a stock of sperm and having sex every day (or more) means there are less sperm in each ejaculate. This is a problem because sperm work together in order to reach the egg. The less sperm in each ejaculate, the less distance they can travel and the less chance you’ll become pregnant.
This is why the recommendation is to only have sex 2 to 3 times a week when trying for a baby and not every day. And don’t think you need to have sex on the right day, sperm can live inside a woman for up to 5 days and still fertilise the egg.
Having Too Little Sex
Many couples who visit me with problems conceiving admit to not having sex on a regular basis. Usually this is because of work. Either they are too tired after a day at work or they are away a lot on business. Whatever the reason, not having regular sex is going to be a problem, but there is something you can do about it.
Women are most fertile for the three days before and after ovulation. If you don’t have the opportunity to have regular sex, then concentrate your efforts on having sex during this week of optimum fertility.
Unsure when your ovulation date is? Then the NHS provides one of the most accurate ovulation and fertility calculators available. You can access the calculator here: NHS Ovulation Calculator
Sexual Positions to Conceive
I occasionally get asked what the best position to get pregnant is. The simple answer is any position where the man ejaculates in the woman’s vagina. Go and have fun!
Maximising your fertility
Your fertility can be influenced by your diet, your work, the environment and even how you spend your free time. This works both ways; some things will improve your fertility, while others will harm it. The good news is that if you change these things, you can increase the chances you will get pregnant.
Boosting Female Fertility
Women will not only benefit from a boost to their fertility, but will also make sure that when they do get pregnant, the developing baby will have the best possible conditions in which to grow. To learn what women can do to boost fertility while providing a healthy environment for their baby, visit the section: How to Increase Your Fertility Naturally and Quickly
Maximising Male Fertility
Studies show that male fertility has been on the decline for a while, so doing everything you can to help it is in your best interests. Find out what is bad for a man’s fertility and what you can do to improve it in the section: A Man’s Guide to Supercharging His Sperm
Why am I not getting pregnant?
It is best not to look for a specific medical condition to pin the blame for not getting pregnant on. It is also not necessarily the responsibility of one partner or the other. Plenty of men who have been told they have a low sperm count manage to conceive and plenty of women who have been told they have PCOS become pregnant.
However, roughly 1 in 7 couples do require some form of assistance to get pregnant. Of these couples:
- 30% of the time the problem can be attributed to the man
- 40% of the time it is an issue with the woman (which is not surprising considering they have the more complicated reproductive system)
- 30% are given a diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility, where no reason can be found in either partner as to why they are not conceiving
The positive news is that most infertility causes, even unknown ones, respond well to treatment. But the only way to be certain if something is wrong or not is to seek professional help.
Seeking Professional Help
The first professional you should see when asking yourself the question ‘Why am I not getting pregnant?’ is your family doctor (also known as your GP or General Practitioner). They will have your medical history, which is used in the initial diagnosis, and they will send you for the standard fertility tests.
Who you see after that is entirely down to the cause of the problem. Whether it be urologist, gynaecologist, or some other fertility specialist. Your GP will be able to advise you and provide the referral letter.
Even if you think you know what is wrong, I still recommend you do not go direct to a fertility clinic without both of you first having seen your family doctor. There are plenty of stories where one member of a couple has paid for expensive treatments thinking the problem was with them, but it turns out later that their partner was the one with the problem.
To learn more about when you should see your doctor, what criteria they use, what questions they are likely to ask, and what the likely outcomes are, check out the section: What to Expect When Seeing Your Doctor About Problems Conceiving
There are three types of fertility treatment and the type of treatment you will need depends on your specific circumstances. These treatments are Fertility Drugs, Assisted Reproduction Techniques, and Surgical Procedures:
- Fertility Drugs: These are prescription medications that either influence a woman’s ovulation or combat some of the problems men have
- Assisted Reproduction Techniques: These include, but are not limited to, procedures like In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
- Surgical Procedures: These are usually to fix certain problems like blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis or ejaculatory duct obstructions
Some of these may be available on your national healthcare (in the UK it also depends on your location), while others you may have to pay for. Your family doctor will be able to advise you what is available to you free and what you’ll have to pay for.
If you need fertility treatment to help you conceive, I have put together a step by step guide to help you through the process, choose your fertility clinic and avoid being ripped off. Check it out here: The Beginners Guide to Private Fertility Treatment
Links to Popular Related Pages
I hope I have helped answer the question of ‘Why am I not getting pregnant?’ You may find the following links to also be of help: