Fertility questions to human reproduction specialist Joelle Belaisch Allart
When should you seek medical advice?
It depends on your age. I would generally advise couples to consult a doctor after a year of unsuccessful attempts but if the patient is over 35, in less time, and if she's over 40, she should see a specialist as soon as she starts wanting to have children!
People can feel young in themselves but be old for reproduction, so the longer you wait, the greater your risk of not conceiving.
But men have to be willing too...
There can be problems if a women's biological clock is ticking but her partner is reluctant to commit, and this is a message that needs conveying to men.
What are the main causes of infertility?
Ovulation problems. It's becoming rarer to see tubal problems (infections of the Fallopian tubes) thanks to condom use. But we really need to explore the causes in men as well because male infertility is on the increase.
Does the Pill affect fertility?
The pill doesn't make you infertile, but while you're on it, you're ageing! So instead of adopting the "I'll have a baby when I want one" line of thought, think more along the lines of "I'll not have a child as long as I don't want one!"
Does our modern lifestyle (waves emitted from mobile phones, etc) affect fertility?
There are no proven harmful effects from mobile phones, but obviously smoking harms fertility. Stress is often cited as an aggravating factor...but every woman who is trying for a baby can't just give up their busy lives and retire to the country!
We often hear people say that problems are "all in the head."
That's rarely the case, because there are so many real causes; and besides, women don't subconsciously prevent themselves from getting pregnant! People need to stop making women feel that they're to blame for fertility problems by suggesting that the problem is in their imagination.