And what they wished they’d known before they started
As part of our research for this program, we asked a number of couples what they wish they had known before they starting trying for a baby, and this is what they said:
1. You need to understand your body
When you’re on the pill for a long time, your body has a very predictable cycle. Come off it, and things may be far from what you expect. “It was such a blow to be told, at the age of 39 and having been on the pill for over a decade, that my hormones were all out of whack and coupled with other issues I was potentially infertile. I felt like I was not as close to understanding my body as I thought – I spent months monitoring my cycle and really getting back in tune with it all,” one woman told me. She has since fallen pregnant naturally, after taking medication to get things back on track.
2. Age matters, don’t miss the ‘baby boat’
One of the most common things I hear is “I wish I hadn't left it so late…” Sometimes we spend so much of our twenties trying to avoid falling pregnant that we lose sight of the fact that fertility rates decline in your 30’s and can be quite low in your 40’s. Although you cannot change your age, one thing you can do is take action. If you are concerned that time is running short and you are thinking about seeing your GP or a Fertility Specialist, arrange it sooner rather than later.
3. The man’s age is a factor too
Perhaps we can blame the number of ageing rock stars producing offspring – many couples don’t realise that the age of the man can also have an impact on your chance of conceiving as a couple.
4. It’s not always so easy the second time around
Secondary infertility is more common than you may think. “I was lulled into a false sense of security that ‘it’s only a matter of time, because our first child was conceived and carried to term so easily,” one woman confessed. “I wish we hadn't wasted a few good years postponing treatment for the second time around”. Although previous fertility can be reassuring, things can change after a previous successful pregnancy.
5. It can be a long road to conception
For some couples, the decision to start a family is quick – but the outcome is anything but. “We never even considered we might have difficulties, we just thought OK it’s time,” one woman said. “Five years later, our doctor had diagnosed ‘unexplained infertility’ and still we had no baby”. Although this woman was in her twenties when they started, she says she wishes they’d sought medical help sooner. Fortunately, assisted conception did eventually prove to be the answer for this couple.
6. Sometimes you need to take a break
Your head can get in the way of things sometimes – and for whatever reason, some people find taking a break from something that’s causing stress (whether that’s work, or fertility treatment), to re-energise can help. While stress does not cause infertility, studies1 show higher levels of stress are associated with taking longer to conceive. When you’re already on the emotionally challenging fertility rollercoaster it can be hard to imagine getting into a relaxed headspace, but it can make all the difference.
7. Everyone’s journey is different
Every single patient has a unique set of circumstances, and their path to parenthood will take many different forms. It helps to talk about it with others – you may find it comforting to know you’re not alone, or you may get some insights that help you through to conception.
“I appreciated knowing conception is not as easy as it sounds - or as my school sex ed teachers made it out to be,” one woman told me. “And that no matter how our children come to us, we are still parents.”
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