By MD, MSc (gynecologist) and BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 11/21/2014

One of the most beautiful moments of life is when you decide to become parents. Many couples or women alone decide that it’s the right time in their lives to have children. Those women who wish to become single mothers turn to fertility clinics to go through a treatment with donor’s sperm. On the other hand, heterosexual couples may have problems achieving pregnancy.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

Trouble conceiving

Human fertility is approximately 15-20% per month, i.e., during the first month after having sexual relationships without protection only 20 to 30% of the couples achieve pregnancy.

The probability of achieving pregnancy increases with every menstrual cycle. This means that, after 12 menstrual cycles trying, the probability of achieving pregnancy is 80–85%.

If during this time pregnancy has not taken place, the chances for it during the following months is not very high, since from 12 cycles on, the chance does not augment significantly. In short, it is likely that the couple suffers from an infertility problem. In this case the couple must turn to a specialist in fertility so that he can diagnose why pregnancy isn’t taking place, and recommend the most appropriate treatment to follow.

For some couples the apparently frequent miracle of achieving pregnancy is not so common.

The frustration and anxiety of not achieving the desired paternity opens the gate to a great deal of emotional problems that lead to a mental blockage, desperation and stress. People surrounding them don’t support them enough or don’t know how to do it. It’s the moment to take matters into own hands.

Turn to a Fertility Clinic

When it comes to looking for professional, help a trustworthy assisted reproduction clinic must be chosen, for there must be good communication with the staff of the clinic. Don’t automatically discard the possibility of getting psychological support.

At the clinic you will go through some tests in order to diagnose the problem why pregnancy isn’t taking place. You’ll be given different options, depending on the result of the tests, and if needed, you’ll be recommended the assisted reproduction technique that best fits your needs.

According to Dr. Sotelo,

A couple must go to a reproductive center when they have had unprotected sex for more than a year and have not obtained a pregnancy. Couples generally have a fertility rate of 20 to 30%, which is not very important. But gradually, after a year or so, it reaches 85%.

Why is it necessary to wait one year?

Achieving pregnancy in a natural way is not easy, even if there is no alteration in fertility. The conception rate of the human species is one of the lowest in the animal kingdom, is between 17-22%, depending on the source being consulted. For this reason, it is necessary to wait a prudential time of 12 months. If the woman is older than 35 years, with 6 months of waiting is enough, since from certain ages the time is the restricting factor and the earlier you act better.

This means that, after the first 12 menstrual cycles trying to get pregnant, the probability of getting pregnant is 80 to 85%. Thus, the definition of sterility is applied after twelve months of trying to get a positive pregnancy test.

That is why it is said that between 10 and 15% of couples of reproductive age have difficulties conceiving.

Therefore, although there is no defined rule when referring a couple that does not achieve a pregnancy to a reproduction centre, it is recommended that any couple that does not achieve a pregnancy after a year of unprotected sexual intercourse visit a reproduction specialist, and in women over 35 that period is reduced to six months.

In summary, according to Dr. Juan M. Martínez de María, a fertility specialist should be consulted in the following cases:

For a couple with possible fertility problems:

  • After one year of regular sexual intercourse (2 to 3 times a week), without any contraceptive method. [6 months if the woman is over 35 years old]
  • If there is any doubt about the alteration of reproductive function: without delay

For single women or couples of women:

  • Without delay, especially if there is a gynaecological history.

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

Authors and contributors

 Juan M. Martínez de María
Juan M. Martínez de María
MD, MSc
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the La Paz Hospital of Madrid. Master's Degree in Human Reproduction from the UAM. More than 15 years of experience as an OB/GYN specialized in the field of Reproductive Medicine. More information about Juan M. Martínez de María
License: 284505020
 Neus Ferrando Gilabert
Neus Ferrando Gilabert
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV). Postgraduate Course in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH). Experience managing Embryology and Andrology Labs at Centro Médico Manzanera (Logroño, Spain). More information about Neus Ferrando Gilabert

Find the latest news on assisted reproduction in our channels.