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A couple officially qualifies for the diagnosis of infertility after they have "actively been trying to conceive" for 12 months or more.

By this time, couples of any age are advised to see their family doctor to discuss fertility testing, to get to the bottom of why they are not pregnant yet. This definition begs the question what exactly does "actively trying to conceive" mean? 

Trying to conceive a baby what should you do?

Any couple that is not using any form of contraception and is enjoying regular unprotected intercourse can be considered to be trying to conceive, either "actively" or in a laid-back, "we'll see what happens" kind of way. Couples who are using some form of natural family planning or are practicing the withdrawal method (for part of the month) with the goal of avoiding pregnancy clearly do not fall into the trying to conceive category.

Women who want to become pregnant almost always have some idea of the rhythm of their menstrual cycle, and their fertile window, in other words, the best time to have intercourse to achieve pregnancy. You should be having intercourse during a time of the month where achieving pregnancy is theoretically possible with the aim of getting pregnant to be considered someone who is actively trying to conceive. That fertile window lasts approximately six days. Any couple who has intercourse regularly as soon as the woman's menstrual flow comes to an end is taking a step in the right direction, even without using a form of ovulation monitoring.

How often are you having sex?

This data significantly impacts your chances of getting pregnant within a given cycle. Those couples who have sex once a week only have a 15 percent chance of conceiving in one cycle, while the odds go up to 33 percent for those folks who do the deed every other day. If you are really committed (and enjoying each other), you might have sex every single day and increase your chances to 37 percent a cycle! Those statistics are both great to use during a general knowledge quiz and pretty telling. Yet, it is clear that your odds of conceiving drop down to zero once your ovulation is out of the way.

This may be why most couples (or women, since it's the woman who is responsible for monitoring her ovulation) feel better about their odds when they use some method to track those fertile days. The fertile window starts five to six days before ovulation. There are many methods around that you can use to predict the date of your expected ovulation roughly, and a few more to precisely confirm it. Guessing your fertile days can be as simple waiting until your menstrual flow stops, and adding seven days.

Most women menstruate for four to six days, and ovulation will often follow within seven days. If you want to get more high-tech, signing up for an ovulation calendar is a great option. Charting your fertility using your basal body temperature is another good choice that does involve a little more work. By monitoring your cervical mucus, looking at the position of your cervix, watching out for your body's natural ovulation signs, or using ovulation predictor kits, you maximize your chances of conceiving.

Worried that you may be infertile?

So, back to that one-year deadline. Were you "actively trying to conceive" if you had regular sex without birth control for a year? Or do you need to use some kind of ovulation-tracking method earn that word "actively"? As we saw earlier, couples who have intercourse every day have a whopping 37 percent chance of conceiving, while those who do the deed every other day have a 33 percent chance. Assuming, of course, that you are both fertile. You absolutely qualify to consult your doctor about your fertility worries if you have been having sex that regularly, and did not get pregnant after a year. You do not need to have been using any kind of ovulation-monitoring technique.

What your doctor will ask you about if you make such an initial infertility appointment is your lifestyle. Are you both healthy eaters? Do you use a multivitamin and mineral supplement? Do you have healthy weights? Do you exercise regularly? Are you taking folic acid tablets (400 mg a day)? Do you smoke or drink? Does the male half of your couple wear tight underwear, or does he otherwise negatively impact his sperm quality? All of these things have a huge impact on your chances of getting pregnant. It is, then, best to make any positive changes you are able to make before seeing your doctor.

Couples who are getting all of these aspects right and still did not conceive after 12 months of trying will be taken very seriously, and are ready for the next step of fertility testing.

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