While getting pregnant can be easy for some people, for others it can be one of the most stressful times of their life. You may have a well-meaning relative asking if you can hear that biological clock ticking, friends having babies, and the urge to get and stay pregnant taking over your thoughts.

While there’s a 25 percent chance every menstrual cycle that a woman who is actively trying to conceive will get pregnant if she’s in her 20s or 30s, it’s not that easy for some. And for both women and men, the chances of conception naturally decrease with age.

If you and your partner are experiencing fertility issues, it’s important to know some basics about different types of treatment so you can make the most out of your appointment with your doctor who can give you the best advice based on your individual circumstances.

Hearing the word “infertility” can be absolutely devastating to many couples but the great news is that medical advances make it highly likely that you will eventually be able to get (and stay) pregnant with intervention, depending on your particular circumstance.

If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year with no results (or six months if you’re over age 35), you’re likely dealing with infertility which affects one in four Nigerian couples. Your doctor will assess you and your partner to determine the cause of infertility, then determine the best treatment options.

Deciding to have a baby is a momentous decision. And while you can technically hop under the sheets and start trying anytime, it’s a good idea to schedule a preconception visit beforehand. 

To increase your odds of a healthy pregnancy, you need to ask important questions at your preconception visit to your doctor.

You can  visit a healthcare provider a couple of months before trying to conceive – or several months before if you have a pre-existing medical condition. 

At this preconception visit, your doctor will assess your health history, evaluate any medical concerns, and give you advice for forming a healthy pregnancy. Think of the appointment as an “ask me anything” session to pick your doctor’s brains. 

Of course, your doctor can’t predict exactly when you’ll conceive. Some couples get pregnant on their first try, while others won’t conceive after years of having regular unprotected sex. But the doctor may have some general predictions based on your age, health history, and past conception experience.

For instance, you can’t always get pregnant immediately after stopping birth control. Hormonal birth control pills, for example, may alter your cycle for several months after discontinuing them. If you have an IUD, you’ll need to discuss when to remove the device.

Some medical conditions may affect your ability to get pregnant. These include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, thyroid disorders, and even STIs. With your partner, issues with sperm count, motility, or morphology may make conception difficult. Your doctor is the best person to gauge the situation and offer solutions.

If you are taking medications, they may affect your fertility. Some medications, including drugs for high blood pressure and epilepsy, may decrease your chances of conceiving. 

What’s more, certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs may harm the baby once you get pregnant (for example, NSAIDs, steroids, some antidepressants and antipsychotics, and thyroid medication). You should review safety concerns with your doctor, who may switch out your drugs or advise you against using certain herbal remedies.  

*You should know that as a prospective mother, you should start taking folic acid supplements three-six months before trying to conceive. Folic acid lessens the risk of neural tube defects and some birth defects. Your doctor might also recommend prenatal vitamins, especially if you seem to be lacking in a certain nutrient.

Being overweight or underweight can decrease your fertility. Unhealthy  weight can also lead to pregnancy complications so you should have an open conversation with your doctor about your lifestyle habits, and ask if you need to make changes before trying to conceive.

Do you need genetic testing? You and your partner may decide to do genetic testing to see if you’re carriers of any hereditary genetic conditions. If the results come back positive, your doctor can help weigh the risks of pursuing a natural pregnancy. 

One way to prevent passing the condition to offspring would be undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This allows parents to test embryos for these genetic conditions.

Besides a question and answer session, your preconception visit will likely include some tests. You’ll recognize many of these screenings from your annual gynecologist exam: blood pressure reading, pap smear, and pelvic and breast exam. 

However, your healthcare provider may also test for issues that could interfere with fertility, such as uterine fibroids, cysts, or PCOS – especially if you’ve having symptoms of these conditions.

A blood test can also shed some light on your vitamin levels, thyroid health, STI status, and immunization to certain illnesses. Your doctor may also conduct urine tests or mental health screenings.

Ask your doctor as many questions as needed to ensure you are aware of and comfortable with any potential risk before starting a treatment.

ART treatments may produce multiple pregnancies at once but doctors can now reduce this by limiting the number of embryos transferred to the uterus at one time.

Many infertility cases are treatable. This is welcome news to the many families who seek to overcome infertility but aside from age and health, the success rate also depends on the treatment type you select.

For example, IUI can have a 10-15 percent success rate for pregnancy compared to a 25-30 percent success rate from IVF for women below 35. Your doctor can help give you a better idea of your individual chances of success based on different treatments.

If you want to know how long do fertility treatments take to work, there may be no straightforward answer here. Some couples have success the first month they get medical assistance, while others try for years. The process of fertility treatments can be long and tiring, which can increase stress if you’ve been trying to get pregnant. But it works, ultimately. 

To help you choose the best treatment options possible, your doctor will review your health history and look for any potential reproductive problems in both you and your partner.

If ART is attempted, it can take multiple tries before pregnancy occurs. On top of that, these are done once a month, as a woman ovulates only once in a 28-day period on average.

Opting for fertility treatments is no easy task, but your doctor can help you determine the right course for the most successful outcome possible.

The bottom line is that for you as a couple trying to conceive a baby, the prospects are good for having a healthy pregnancy and enjoying the magic of becoming a parent. It is worth pursuing a conversation with your doctor about the best course of action.

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