Your pathway to becoming pregnant (trying for <12 months)

When should I seek treatment?

If you have been trying for less than a year, there is no need to be concerned about not falling pregnant. Contrary to popular belief, it is not ‘easy’ to become pregnant. The reality is that 1 in 6 people have difficulty in becoming pregnant.

If the female partner is over the age of 35, it is best to see your doctor after 6 to 9 months.


Does any of the following apply to you?

Improving your chances

We recommend the following lifestyle changes to improve your pregnancy chances:


Eat a well-balanced diet to achieve and maintain a sensible weight for your height

There is no special eating plan for becoming pregnant. A sensible diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, poultry and seafood is advised.


Take folic acid and an iodine supplement

Increasing your intake of folic acid before conceiving and early on in pregnancy can reduce your chances of having a baby with neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida). Iodine is an essential element for foetal growth. The recommended doses are 600 micrograms per day of folic acid and 220 micrograms per day of Iodine.


Give up smoking

Smoking can cause problems for virtually all areas of the reproductive system. For information and advice on how to stop smoking, visit your GP, see Quit Now or call the Quitline on 137 848.


Reduce your alcohol intake

Males should be particularly aware that excess alcohol may reduce sperm quality.

Getting the timing right

In addition to making some healthy lifestyle changes, it is recommended that you have unprotected intercourse every 2 to 3 days. You can also calculate the time when you are most fertile, i.e. during ovulation, to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Ovulation is the time when the egg is released from one of your ovaries. You can determine your ovulation time by using the following methods:


Rhythm or calendar method

If you have regular cycles (regardless of the length of the cycle), subtract 14 days from your average cycle length. For example, if your average cycle is 28 days, you will ovulate on day 14. You should have intercourse from 3 or 4 days prior to that day in your cycle in order to maximise your chance of achieving a pregnancy. You may find the free phone app Period Tracker Lite helpful in tracking your ovulation.


Home ovulation kits

These are available through pharmacies and test your urine to predict the best time to try to become pregnant.

Changes in cervical mucus

When you ovulate, your vaginal discharge may increase and become clearer, more slippery and easier to stretch – similar in consistency to raw egg white.

Consult your doctor

The term ‘infertility’ is generally used if a couple has not conceived after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse, or after 6 months for women aged over 35.
A more accurate term for most people is ‘sub-fertility’, which means the ability to become pregnant is diminished or absent. It does not mean that you are unable to have children but that you may require treatment or assistance to achieve a pregnancy.
After a year of trying, it is recommended you visit your GP to discuss your situation. They may want to run some tests or they may refer you to a fertility centre such as Westmead Fertility Centre.

More information on beginning treatment through Westmead Fertility Centre

Causes of infertility

Many couples who have difficulty conceiving may have a specific medical condition hindering the woman’s ability to become pregnant. The causes of infertility can be attributed to female factors, male factors or both partners.


Common reasons for seeking IVF treatment

These include:
• low sperm count
• fallopian tube damage
• ovulation issues
• endometriosis – a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus is found in other places in the pelvis
• unexplained infertility.