Whether you are currently trying to conceive, or pregnancy is part of your long-term plan, there are many good reasons to talk about fertility with your gynecologist or health care provider. If this sparks some anxiety, you’re not alone. Many women are reluctant to talk about certain sensitive issues with a doctor. But having this conversation can be an important part of a healthy pregnancy.
If you do decide to make an appointment, we suggest you mention it ahead of time so your care provider can be prepared. If they think you’re there for a routine check-up or a pap smear, they might not allocate enough time to answer all your fertility questions. And when you do, bring a list of your questions so you don’t forget anything.
To help you prepare, here are four questions to ask your gynecologist, midwife, or doctor.
When Do I Stop Birth Control?
While most birth control methods allow you to get pregnant soon after stopping, others may require more time. It depends on your body as well as the type of birth control you use. Understanding all the factors involved can help you better prepare and may reduce any anxiety you feel if you don’t conceive right away.
How Long Should It Take to Conceive?
That depends on many things including your age, overall health condition, stress level, family health history, and other factors. The more information you can offer your health care provider, the more accurate answers you can get. This includes details about any current medications you’re taking, symptoms you may be experiencing, whether you’ve ever been diagnosed with an STD, whether you have irregular periods, your family health history, and other factors. The facts you learn during the conversation can also help you better understand your fertility cycle, which is important when trying to get pregnant.
Do I Need Fertility Testing?
That depends. The general rule of thumb is to see a fertility specialist if not pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex if you are under 35, and after 6 months of trying if you are over 35 years old. Talking openly with your gynecologist can help determine possible causes of delayed conception and the types of tests you may need. If needed, they can offer referrals for specialists. If you have a male partner, you may want to have them test their fertility as well because male infertility is the main cause of conception problems about 30% of the time.
How Does Lifestyle Affect Conception?
It’s not surprising that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always recommended when trying to conceive — or any time for that matter. But it’s not always black and white. Smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol in excess when trying to conceive is certainly risky, but what about caffeine? Talk with your doctor about your exercise habits, diet, stress level, supplements and vitamins you may be taking, and other lifestyle choices to give yourself the best chance to conceive.
Finally, talking about conception with experts offers you the best possible information so you are empowered with all of your options, including preservation options such as freezing your eggs if you don’t intend to get pregnant for some time.