If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That'd how the adage goes, isn't it? But when having a baby is what you're trying for, does practice really make perfect? Many couples who are trying to conceive wonder if the length of time that passes actually improves their odds of having a baby, or whether it's just wasting days that could be spent pursuing other options. Are you more likely to get pregnant the longer you try? Or is that just wishful thinking?
The answer is quite a bit more complicated than that, as there are many factors that may affect a couple's chances of getting pregnant. But according to reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Alan Copperman of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, it's not necessarily inaccurate. "In some cases, months of trying and data collection can help a couple hone in on the precise timing of ovulation, and help them optimally time intercourse," Copperman tells Romper in an exclusive interview.
"That being said," Copperman continues, "there is no evidence that the chance of conception actually goes up over time or after repeated attempts." Simply put, once a couple is certain that they know how to read the woman's cycle and predict her ovulation, time is no longer an advantage.
Other factors such as sperm quality and the health of both partners inevitably contribute to a couple's fertility too, as does one other major factor. In an interview with Parents magazine, reproductive endocrinologist and author of Making a Baby: Everything You Need to Know to Get Pregnant, Dr. Sam Thatcher noted that age is the biggest factor to affect fertility. For older women, taking the wait-and-see route can actually be counterproductive.
"If you're over 35 and concerned about your fertility, don't settle for a gynecologist saying 'Just give it time,'" the piece reads. "The American Society of Reproductive Medicine advises women age 35 or older to consult a fertility specialist if they fail to get pregnant after six months of unprotected intercourse. Women ages 37 to 40 should wait no longer than three months."
But it's not just maternal age that can affect the time it takes to conceive. Parents went on to cite a British study performed by researchers at Bristol and Brunel Universities that found that 15 percent of men had unprotected intercourse that did not result in conception after age 35. This may not seem noteworthy until it is compared with the data that showed the number as being up 7 percent from those at age 25.
So what should you do if you have a hunch that time may no longer be your best friend? Dr. Copperman believes it's better to seek assistance sooner rather than later. "If conception does not come easily," he advises, "there are some basic tests of sperm quality and of the uterus and tubes that can be performed." Does this mean you're doomed to years of struggle and longing? Not at all. Sometimes the solution is as simple as a little adjusting of one's hormones. But if that's the case, wouldn't you want to go ahead and know?
If you're under the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for less than a year, or are over 35 and have tried for under six months, there are a few natural avenues you could seek out while you wait for the time to bring out the big guns. Many holistic gurus swear that natural fertility boosters can help your luck with conception. If it's not time to pursue medical treatment yet, why not focus your energy on your diet, sleep hygiene, stress levels, and overall wellness?
If you're still seeking to make sense of your cycle and peak fertility, time may indeed be on your side as you learn. But if you're sure you've got that part down, it may be time to pursue some medical expertise. After all, when it comes to that baby you dream of, why wait?
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