Let’s be clear: despite my joking to the contrary, I am obviously NOT a doctor. This post is meant to describe my own opinion and my own experiences with Trying To Conceive. If you believe you are experiencing troubles of your own, please consult a real medical doctor. But, thank you for humoring me, and good luck!
Sign 1: After stopping birth control, you do not get your period regularly, or at all.
If you’re not getting your period, chances are you are not ovulating. And, if you’re not releasing an egg each month, your partner’s sperm has nowhere useful to go. For me, after coming off of hormonal birth control, my periods were never regular. And, I had been on the Pill for so long I couldn’t really remember what my pre-Pill periods were like, either. So, I began charting my cycles using a website such as Fertility Friend. After a few months, it was clear that I was not ovulating every month or getting my period with any regularity, which told us something was awry. Additionally, the data in these charts was very helpful for our fertility doctor once we made the decision to see one. My unofficial advice: Track your cycles so you can identify any patterns with ovulation or menstruation, and so you can have better timing when having sex.
Sign 2: There is history of miscarriage in your family.
Miscarriages happen for many reasons, many of which are not hereditary, but this is one of the first questions a fertility doctor will ask you during your initial visit. Sadly, many women experience miscarriage before they even notice the first signs of pregnancy so, again, tracking your cycles could help pinpoint other issues along the way. But please don’t get scared that, if you are not getting pregnant, you are miscarrying every month. Miscarriage is a frightening and devastating thing; many of my friends have had one, and we had a scare during this process as well. The feelings of loss and immense fear are not ones I would wish on my worst enemy, and my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced the loss of a baby. But, unfortunately this process of (in)fertility many times means facing your fears and then investigating them. Only when we have checked out every angle can a baby-making plan be put together. My unofficial advice: Check into your family’s fertility history. If you can, ask your mother what her TTC journey was like. You may discover some information that will be helpful along the way.
Sign 3: You are overweight, underweight, or have other, seemingly-unrelated-to-TTC health issues.
The human body is a wonderful—and weird—organism. Who knows, maybe if you are experiencing other, random health issues, they could actually be related to your reproductive health. Friends of mine noticed years ago inexplicable weight gain and extra-hairy body parts; later they were diagnosed with PCOS, which has been known to potentially complicate the TTC process. My unofficial advice: Listen to your body; if your intuition tells you something is up, have it checked out. A healthy pregnancy starts with a healthy momma.
Sign 4: Despite a regular period and impeccable timing, you are still not getting pregnant.
Most of the conversation about fertility issues centers around a woman’s reproductive health. Many times, however, the concern can be with her male partner. Even with our doctors, all of the initial testing focused on my body, through blood work, ultrasounds and the HSG test. Only once they found everything looked normal with me (although we still don’t know why I have irregular periods), did they do a semen analysis on my husband. Ultimately, it was his low numbers that forced us to make the jump right over other potential fertility treatments right to IVF. In the end, I believe it saved us a lot of money and time—we knew that, unfortunately, neither surgery nor hormone therapy would make a significant difference in his numbers, but we were able to skip directly to the solution that was right for us. I don’t regret the decision for a second. My unofficial advice: Have your partner tested, too!
Sign 5: You have a hunch.
Call it mothers’ intuition kicking in a bit early. You know your body; if something doesn’t seem “right” to you, take whatever next step you think is best. Of course, just because you’re not pregnant after the first two or three months of trying doesn’t mean there’s an issue. The odds of getting pregnant during any given cycle are frustratingly small, even for the healthiest of couples. My husband and I wondered if we’d have any issues because my twin sister had gone through some fertility treatments. Therefore, we began charting almost immediately into trying, so we could start figuring it out sooner rather than later. Then, a year later when we saw a fertility doctor (most everyone will tell you that it will take a healthy couple up to a year to get pregnant), we were armed with plenty of data about our own TTC process. We knew to wait to see a doctor, but I was grateful we didn’t have to wait even longer to then begin gathering information about our cycle before starting a fertility treatment plan. My unofficial advice: Simply put, if you think you are having trouble TTC, it can’t hurt to begin to look into it. You’ve already started by reading this blog post, so best of luck with the next step in your journey!