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Many couples that have been trying to conceive without success for a while are worried they could be dealing with infertility. What are some of the possible warning signs?

Couples who first start trying to conceive are aware that they may need to wait a while before seeing their positive pregnancy test. Whether or not you get pregnant quickly depends on many factors — including how often you have intercourse, whether you track your ovulation, and whether you and your partner have fertility-decreasing habits such as smoking or drinking too much. 

Still, statistics suggest that the majority of couples (60 percent) get pregnant within six months, while around 85 percent will conceive within a year. About 90 percent of all couples who try for a baby get pregnant naturally. Only around 10 percent of couples will need assisted reproductive technologies to have a child. I'm willing to bet that many more than that relatively small percentage wonder whether they could be infertile while they're trying for a baby. It's completely natural to question whether you might have a fertility problem if the months go by, and you're "still" not expecting. When should you really start thinking about seeing a doctor?

How Is Infertility Defined?

Infertility is now classified as not achieving pregnancy after having unprotected intercourse for 12 months. This means that couples who have been trying to conceive for a year without getting pregnant may start thinking about going to the doctor. Couples in which the female partner is over 35 may see a doctor after trying for six months, so that they have a higher chance of successful fertility treatment. Men and women who already know they have a medical issue that may affect fertility can see their family doctor or a specialist they are seeing about their relevant medical problem right away, or before they even start trying to conceive. 

From this very definition of infertility, it is obvious that the main symptom of infertility is simply not getting pregnant. People who have been trying to conceive for a while should know that it isn't entirely unusual to try for longer than a year and that many couples do conceive after trying for a year, or two, or even three or four — completely spontaneously and without any medical help.

While you are panicking about the possibility you might never get pregnant (naturally), that's a completely unsatisfactory comment though. You'll want to know that you are doing something that might help or give you new insights. 

Infertility: Possible Warning Signs

There are indeed a few signs that can point to trouble. Let's start with the simplest. Infertility is more likely to be at play for couples who have regular unprotected intercourse (which means at least every two to three days), or couples who are tracking the woman's fertile window in a somewhat reliable manner than it is for couples who aren't intimate very often. Using ovulation predictor kits without ever getting a positive test result is a possible warning sign that you're dealing with anovulation. 

Women who have irregular menstrual cycles are also more likely to deal with infertility. We're talking about cycles that are shorter than 24 days or longer than 35 days. These cycles can pint to hormonal imbalances, including possibly those that interfere with ovulation. A luteal phase — the time between ovulation and menstruation — or less than seven to 10 days can also point to trouble, because luteal phase defects mean fertilized eggs will not have the time to implant into the uterus. 

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