Fertility facts: What you need to know about your fertility

7th August 2013 in Advice

This information was correct at the time of publishing. It may not reflect our current practices, prices or regulations.

If you’ve been trying to have a baby for a while without success, you may be wondering if you’re infertile. Here’s some top fertility facts you should know about your fertility, and some things which could be affecting your fertility without you realising it:

 Are you actually infertile?Did you know that according to the World Health Organisation, the medical definition of infertility is when you’ve been having regular, unprotected intercourse without conceiving for over two years? So don’t assume that because you’ve not fallen pregnant as fast as you hoped, you are infertile and need infertility treatment. You may not be having intercourse at the right time in your cycle, or you may just need to try for longer.

Don’t delay seeking help:If you’ve not conceived after 12 months of trying to have a baby, then do visit your GP to see if there is an underlying medical reason why you’re not conceiving. They can perform simple tests to identify a possible cause – or you can refer yourself for one of our thorough Fertility MOTtests for both you and your partner. You may, for example, have blocked fallopian tubes which are preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.

Don’t assume that the cause of conception problems is always you:In around a third of infertility cases that we treat, the reason for the infertility is with the male partner. This can be caused by a sperm disorder – such as sperm with poor motility, abnormal shape or low sperm count. So it’s vital that you both get tested to find out where the issue really lies.

Sometimes, there is no medical reason:Sometimes the cause of your infertility can’t be found – there is simply no medical reason for you not being able to get pregnant. This is known as unexplained infertility, and it’s very common. We can help if you have unexplained infertility, and it doesn’t always mean you need IVFtreatment. There are other treatments to consider first which may help you have a baby, such as IUI.

Stress, smoking, weight and drinking:Many studies have indicated that stress levels can affect your fertility, because of changes to your hormones. If you’re trying for a baby, try to relax as much as you can, it’s why a lot of couples who haven’t conceived suddenly find that they do when they go on holiday. Smoking and drinking to excess can also affect your fertility, as can being overweight, in both men and women.

 Your age:It can be harder to conceive if you’re older. This is because both sperm and egg quality declines as you age, particularly after the age of 35. It’s why some couples have their first baby easily, but then struggle to have a second child a few years down the line. It’s also why IVF success rates are higher amongst younger women. Read our handy guide forolder women here about treatment options.

Know your cycle:For some couples, the cause of infertility is because of ovulatory problems. You may not even be aware that you’re not ovulating, or you may only be ovulating sporadically. Use ovulation prediction kits to educate yourself about your cycle, helping you to pinpoint when you’re ovulating. They measure hormones in your urine and identify a specific surge which occurs just before you are due to ovulate. If the tests don’t pick up any surge in hormones, you may need further tests to see if you are actually ovulating. For some women, the reason for their ovulatory problems is because of conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or premature ovarian failure. 

Remember if you have a question about your fertility, trying for a baby or any infertility treatments or services we offer, you can use our free Ask the Expert feature, where our friendly team will answer your questions online.

Last updated: 20th January 2020