If you've been trying to conceive for a long time like I did, you're probably frustrated and even concerned, wondering if that will have an effect on your pregnancy or your child. After all, if getting pregnant is so hard, why would pregnancy itself be any simpler? I know I worried a lot about my own pregnancies when I finally achieved them, but was I right? Does the time it takes to conceive affect your pregnancy, or is it just trying to conceive (TTC) anxiety talking?
I tried to get pregnant with my son for 18 months. My husband and I did everything short of interpretive dance to try to get pregnant. Believe me, though, had I thought it would help, I'd have interpreted the hell out of some dancing. We tried pH-balanced lubricants, timing, basal body temperature monitoring, acupuncture, acupressure, Sabbath sex (it's a thing, and not to be confused with Black Sabbath sex wherein you yell out "Sharon" as you climax), massage, I think my husband started praying the rosary before sex — everything possible.
For my first pregnancy, the reproductive endocrinologist made me wait until I'd tried to get pregnant for 10 months before he'd see me, because I was only 24. Now, 10 years later, if I wanted to try again, I'd make an appointment with him before I even got naked with my husband once. Well, naked with the intent of baby making, that is.
Whether you've been TTC for 10 months or 10 years, you're likely to worry about the same things. That seems pretty natural to me. I contacted a lead genomic and fertility researcher Dr. Martha Smith, MD, PhD of Dublin, to talk to her about the potential implications for pregnancy of an extended period of TTC.
She tells Romper, "That's a loaded question, and there's a lot of possible answers." Because the reasons behind TTC complications are so many and so varied, Smith says that it's impossible to say if the duration is causational because of so many co-determining factors behind infertility. "If a woman is struggling to get pregnant, and it's not a problem with her, but rather with her partner, then the likelihood any complications would be related would be decreased. Unless it's a chromosomal abnormality, which technically isn't a problem with the pregnancy, but with the fetus."
She continues, "However, if a woman has difficulty conceiving because she's of advanced maternal age, then she's more likely to have problems with the pregnancy and experience adverse pregnancy outcomes. But again, that's not because it took her a long time to get pregnant, but because of her age." Smith adds that while there are definite increased risks, many women of advanced maternal age deliver healthy, happy babies every year, and that modern medicine has evolved greatly in this respect.
"We see an uptick in preeclampsia risk with women who undergo IVF to get pregnant, and there are several theories as to why this is the case, but none of them are really because they had to keep trying," Smith says. "Your body, unless you've been pumping it full of Clomid or other fertility drugs for months, doesn't know if you've been trying to get pregnant for a year. It only registers when you're successful or unsuccessful. You either get your period or you get a zygote."
The risks of extended time to conceive are correlational, it seems, rather than causational. While that may put many fears to rest, it doesn't make the process all that less stressful. While doctors do pay attention to important correlations, that doesn't mean you should stress more than necessary — even if that's easier said than done. After all, there's plenty more stress coming your way when you have to choose a brand of diapers and exactly how long you can hang out at Target before your partner files a missing person's report.
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