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Natural Methods Versus Going to a Specialist

Question

I'm a healthy, 34-year-old woman with no history of reproductive problems and no prior pregnancies. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for more than a year with no luck. I've been avoiding going to a specialist because I'm afraid of invasive infertility treatments. Is there anything natural we can do to boost our chances of conceiving? How will I know when it's time to turn to high-tech treatments?

Answer

The anxiety associated with the desire to become pregnant can be severe. The first step is to understand what is normal and what is not. Typically, approximately 90 percent of couples engaging in regular sex will become pregnant within one year. However, many factors can make it less likely they'll conceive, but it doesn't mean any serious problem exists.

I understand your concern about enduring invasive procedures and agree that it would be appropriate for you to start with more natural "interventions." To begin with, it's important to know your menstrual cycle. Many women believe their most fertile day is 14 days after their period starts -- actually it's 14 days before your next period. Hence, you should keep a diary of your cycle length. Women whose period is 28 days will have no problem tracking their fertile time, but if your cycle is longer or shorter than this, you may have not have "maximized" your most fertile days.

For years, doctors have recommended a BBT (basal body temperature) chart wherein a woman checks her temperature every morning and plots it out on a graph. Although this is helpful, it can be time-consuming and frustrating. More recently, women have turned to ovulation prediction kits, which you can buy without a prescription at the drugstore. These have helped many patients and have given them a sense of control.

If you still can't get pregnant despite trying at the right time during your cycle, then it's time to see a specialist. Bear in mind that fertility rates decline once we reach ages 35 to 40, and that some medical conditions affect fertility. Scheduling a consultation with a board-certified infertility specialist is an important step in maximizing your chances of getting pregnant. He or she can discuss other methods that will help diagnose a potential problem. If your doctor recommends more sophisticated tests, I've found the anticipation is much worse than the actual procedure. Find a compassionate doctor to whom you can express your fears and concerns.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.