Expanding your family can be a very exciting time, but it can also bring up a lot of questions — the first being, when is the best time to start? One of the most important things you can do is loop your OB/GYN into the discussion as early as possible. He or she can help guide you with a personalized (and healthy) family plan.
When they’re in the know from the planning stages, OB/GYNs have a prime opportunity to improve fetal and maternal outcomes with pre-conception counseling. During pre-conception assessment, providers can identify any risk factors that should be addressed prior to a woman’s attempts to conceive. Addressing these risk factors could protect the health of both mom and baby.
Risk factors that are important to consider include:
• Activity level and nutrition
• Chronic and genetic conditions
• Immunization status
• Medications and supplements
• Menstrual cycle regularity
• Smoking and alcohol consumption
• Social and emotional health
When Infertility is a Concern
Assessing infertility first begins with the consideration of a woman’s age. In women younger than 35 who have regular periods and have not achieved pregnancy after 12 months of trying, an OB/GYN will start looking into what might be affecting her fertility with a work-up. In women older than 35, six months of trying is plenty of time to start an assessment if she hasn’t yet become pregnant.
A fertility assessment includes understanding if a woman is ovulating, if she is having a normal cycle every 25 to 35 days, and if she is aware of the timing of her cycle as it relates to increasing the odds of conceiving. Each month, a woman under age 35 with a normal cycle has only a 20% chance of getting pregnant. An assessment might help a woman increase these odds by providing guidance on how to time her cycles, based on her hormonal and physical evaluation.
Treatments for Infertility
The good news is that there are many options for the treatment of infertility, including medications and procedures that address common causes of infertility like endometriosis or fibroids.
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can often benefit from hormone treatments that can regularize periods, in addition to lifestyle changes. Losing even 5% of body weight can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
Subhia Rehman, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN in Celebration. She is known for her dedication to clinical excellence and strong belief in developing a healthy personal relationship with each of her patients. Dr. Rehman was an award-winning resident physician. She speaks five languages: English, Italian, Urdu, Hindi, and Kashmiri.