When to see your GP about fertility problems
Before getting pregnant
See your GP before trying to become pregnant if you or your partner are in a heterosexual relationship and:
- have health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure
- are taking any medications
See your GP before trying to become pregnant if you are in a same-sex couple and:
- would like to get pregnant by donor insemination
- are considering surrogacy
- are considering adoption
- you or your partner are taking any medications or have any health problems
If you are single and hoping to become pregnant by donor insemination, it’s a good idea to see your GP. They can assess your general health. They can also discuss the options available to you.
Trans or non-binary
If you are trans or non-binary, talk to your GP before starting any treatment to alter your body. They can help you find out your options for preserving your fertility.
After 6 months of trying
See your GP after 6 months of trying to become pregnant if:
- the woman trying to get pregnant is older than 35
- you or your partner have health problems that could affect fertility
After 1 year of trying
See your GP after 1 year of trying to become pregnant if:
- you and your partner are healthy
- the woman trying to get pregnant is younger than 35
When you decide to see your GP, it is a good idea for both of you to attend if you are in a couple.
Your GP will talk to you both, asking you questions. They might examine you both and perform some tests.
Questions your GP might ask
How long you’ve been trying
Most couples will become pregnant within the first year of trying. If you are under 35 and have been trying for less than a year, your GP may reassure you and advise you to try for longer.
Certain medical conditions such a thyroid disease and diabetes may affect your fertility. It may be dangerous to become pregnant if they are not under good control.
Your medical history
Treatments like chemotherapy can sometimes affect the fertility of both men and women.
For men, your doctor may ask if you have a history of any conditions that may affect your fertility.
These include conditions related to your testes, like undescended testes. This is when one or both testicles do not “drop” into the scrotum after birth.
Mumps can also affect male fertility.
Medications you’re on
Certain medications may affect your fertility. They might be unsafe to take during pregnancy.
Talk to your GP about any medications that you are on. Tell them if you are taking any over the counter medications or herbal remedies.
Problems with periods
Signs of an underlying medical condition that may affect your fertility if you are a woman:
- Very heavy periods.
- Irregular periods.
- Bleeding after sex.
- Bleeding between periods.
If you have been pregnant before, your GP will ask about this.
If you are a man, your GP will ask if you have any children from this or a previous relationship.
Contraception (birth control) you used
Your GP will ask what type of contraception you used in the past, and when you stopped using it.
This is because certain types of contraception may take some time to stop working. Examples include the contraceptive injection ‘Depo Provera’ (medroxyprogesterone acetate).
Problems with sex
Your GP may ask how often you are having sex. You might be asked if you are experiencing any difficulties during sex.
It can feel embarrassing talking about sex. Remember for your GP this is a routine question. They are used to talking to patients about sex.
Problems with sex can sometimes delay couples from becoming pregnant. They might be easy to treat.
Problems can include:
- the man having difficulty getting an erection (sometimes called impotence)
- reduction in libido (loss of interest in sex)
- the man having difficulty achieving orgasm
- pain on having sex (more common in women than men)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Your GP will ask you both:
- if you smoke
- how much alcohol you drink
- your weight
- if you are under stress
- if you take any illegal drugs including performance-enhancing drugs.
They might recommend making some lifestyle changes. This is to improve your chances of becoming pregnant.