Struggling to conceive? How to boost your chance of having a baby

Facing challenges on your path to parenthood? Infertility is an issue for many people, but it can be treated. Here’s what you should know.

Many people grow up thinking one day they’d like to have children of their own, but for some, the journey to becoming a parent can be challenging.

Infertility impacts one in six Australian couples and while many do eventually go on to become pregnant, the experience can be stressful and frustrating.

Here is what you should know about infertility and how it can be treated.

What is infertility?

Gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Genia Rozen says infertility is diagnosed when a heterosexual couple with regular menstrual cycles has not fallen pregnant after 12 months of regular, unprotected intercourse.

“It’s such a distressing condition,” Dr Rozen says.

“It really shakes people’s belief systems.”

What causes infertility?

It’s estimated around one-third of infertility issues for a couple are related to the man, one-third can be attributed to the woman, and one-third cannot be identified or may be to do with both the man and the woman.

Female fertility can be impacted by many things including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid problems, premature menopause, fibroids, and more.

Male fertility challenges are most commonly caused by problems making healthy sperm, which can be a result of conditions such as an infection, hormone problems, immune problems or lifestyle factors.

What to do if you’re struggling to conceive

The good news is there are a number of treatment options for infertility.

Depending on what is causing your challenges, your doctor may recommend medication, surgery or assisted reproductive technology, while lifestyle modifications such as cycle tracking, losing weight or stopping drinking or smoking may help.

Dr Rozen recommends seeing a fertility specialist sooner rather than later to get the appropriate advice for your situation.

Wellness tips to help manage your fertility journey

Melbourne IVF Medical Director Dr Fleur Cattrall says though people may struggle with losing control over when they get pregnant, it doesn’t mean they will never have a baby.

“I think people need to understand that most people who have trouble conceiving will ultimately be successful,” Dr Cattrall says.

She says couples can make infertility a journey of self-empowerment by trying to be the best versions of themselves.

“Focus on healthy eating patterns, moderate exercise, sleep, and positive social connections,” she says.

“Everything they’re doing, they’re moving closer to the goal of having a baby.”

Sexologist and fertility counsellor Aleeya Hachem emphasises the importance of looking after your mental health too.

“With infertility, I think there’s a lot of grief involved in the process that often gets overlooked,” Aleeya says.

“A lot of people don’t necessarily think about reaching out to a counsellor or a sexologist… because there is so much focus on getting their body to be able to do what it is ‘meant’ to do,” she says.

Aleeya says a sexologist will work to educate patients and provide strategies to overcome issues that may not need medical treatment, such as erectile dysfunction or vaginismus.

“It is a service that people can come to and know that we’re non-judgemental, we’re welcoming, and we’ve seen it all,” she says.

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Written by Brittany Busch.