One of the big questions that many people ask, once they have decided to start trying for a baby, is How Long Does it Take to Conceive?
Frustratingly, it’s not always an easy one to answer. Whilst some women may find that it takes long after coming off the pill, it is possible to get pregnant whilst ON the pill in a slim number of cases, and other women find it doesn’t take them long at all.
A couple of the more pertinent first questions should be:
- Are we having regular sex?
- Is my menstrual cycle regular?
These two things have a huge influence on your increased chances of conception and are important to address whether you are under 30 or over 30.
TTC under 30
It is true that egg quality wanes with age (age also seems to affect the chances of successful IVF or other forms of assisted conception), so having a baby before you are 30 is preferable if it’s right for you.
If you are under 30, it is unlikely that your doctor would suggest tests for possible infertility or sub-fertility (that is, when there is a reduced opportunity for the woman to conceive naturally) until you have been trying for at least 12 months.
TTC after 30
The average age of a first-time mother is creeping up and having a baby in your thirties is increasingly popular as careers, financial responsibilities and other lifestyle pressures make couples wait longer to start trying for a baby.
Whilst some health issues for the baby can be a risk if you are having a baby over 35, many of these risks can be identified and are still relatively rare.
If you are over 30, you might want to discuss the issue with your GP if you have been trying regularly every month over more than six months.
However, even if you are over 30, your GP is unlikely to feel there is any great cause for concern before 12 months unless she or he feels your personal medical circumstances warrant considering assisted conception any earlier.
How long should we wait before seeking help?
Whatever your age, if you have had any surgery which might have lead to scar tissue causing a blockage, then you should speak to your GP (or consultant if the treatment is imminent or recent) as soon as you can after deciding to try for a baby.
Operations for women including treatment for an ovarian cyst, cancer or appendicitis don’t necessarily cause a problem, but it is worth flagging previous medical issues up so that you can be examined for possible scar tissue growth affecting your fallopian tubes, for example.
Operations in men that might affect successful conception may include treatment for a hernia. It is not a given that such events would contribute to an inability to conceive, but it is worth making your health advisors aware of them.