Go to your GP if you or your partner:
- are a woman age 35 or under and have been trying to get pregnant for more than 1 year without success
- are a woman age 36 or over and have been trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months without success
- know you have a health problem that can affect fertility
- had previous fertility treatment
- are taking medicine that may affect your fertility or pregnancy
- need donor sperm or eggs to have a baby
What we mean by health problems that can affect fertility
There are a number of health conditions and treatment that can affect fertility.
- previous cancer treatment
- previous chlamydia or gonorrhoea
- hormone problems
- long-term health problems like cystic fibrosis
In women these:
- no periods or periods that do not come every month
- family history of menopause before age 40
- polycystic ovaries
- previous ectopic pregnancy
- pelvic or abdominal (tummy) surgery
- surgery to your cervix
In men these are:
- surgery or injury to your testicles
- infection in your testicles
Having a baby through sex
If you are a woman age 40 or under, most of the time you will get pregnant through sex within a year.
But you need to have both regular:
- unprotected sex
Regular unprotected sex means having sex every 2 to 3 days without using contraception.
4 out of 5 couples will get pregnant this way, within 1 year.
Having a baby if you need donor eggs or sperm
If you need donor eggs or sperm to become pregnant, your GP may be able to:
- give you advice
- refer you for tests or treatment
Trans or non-binary
If you are trans or non-binary, talk to your GP before starting any treatment to alter your body. If you are interested in preserving your fertility, it is important to plan for this before you start any treatment - either surgery or taking medicine.
Your GP can talk you through your options for preserving your fertility.
If you want to start a fertility treatment cycle, talk to the fertility clinic that is storing your sperm or eggs about using them.
What to expect at your GP appointment
Your GP may:
- ask you questions
- examine you
- arrange tests
- refer you for specialist tests
- talk to you about your options
If you have a partner, attend your GP appointment together - fertility affects you both. Your GP may also examine your partner or refer them for tests.
Questions your GP might ask
Your GP will ask you questions to help find out if you need more tests or treatment.
How long you’ve been trying
If you are or your partner is a woman age 35 or under, your GP may advise you to try for longer when both of these apply to you:
- you have been trying for less than 1 year
- you do not have health problems that can affect fertility
Problems with sex
Your GP may ask how often you have sex. Having sex every 2 to 3 days is the best way to get pregnant. They may ask if you have any difficulties during sex.
It's OK if you feel embarrassed talking about sex. But for your GP this is a normal question. They are used to talking to patients about sex.
Your medical history
Your GP may ask about your medical history, including any medical conditions or treatment you have had.
This is because some of these affect:
If you are a man and had a different GP in the past you may need to find out if you had:
- testicles that did not "drop"
- a serious injury to your testicles
- cancer treatment
Conditions that affect pregnancy
Some conditions can have an impact on you or your baby, if you get pregnant. These include high blood pressure and diabetes.
Your GP may check that they are under control before referring you for any fertility treatment or tests.
Talk to your GP or your doctor who is treating the condition before you start trying for a baby. This is so your health is the best it can be and to lower potential risks.
They may check that you are up to date with your cervical screening (previously known as a smear test), if you are a woman.
Medicines you are taking
Certain medicines may affect your fertility. They can also be unsafe to take during pregnancy.
Talk to your GP about any medicines that you are taking. Tell them if you are taking any non-prescription medicines or herbal remedies.
Do not stop taking any medicines you are prescribed - unless your GP tells you to. You can put your health at risk if you stop taking medicine you need.
They may check that you are taking folic acid, if you are a woman.
If you are a woman, your GP will ask about your periods.
They may ask about:
- how often you get your periods
- periods that are painful
- bleeding after sex
- bleeding between periods
- any symptoms when you ovulate
Your GP may ask if you and your partner have had any pregnancies or children from your current relationship or a previous relationship.
If you have been pregnant before, your GP will ask about this.
They will ask about:
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. For example, the contraceptive injection (medroxyprogesterone acetate).
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Your GP will ask if you have had any STIs. Some of these can affect your fertility, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
Your GP will ask:
- if you smoke
- how much alcohol you drink
- your weight and height
- if you are under stress
- if you take any illegal drugs, including performance-enhancing drugs
They might recommend making some changes to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Your GP will check your health in a number of ways.
Weight and BMI (body mass index)
Your GP may weigh you.
Being a healthy weight for your height increases your chances of becoming pregnant.
Your GP may check your blood pressure, listen to your heart and lungs and do other physical health checks.
If you are a woman, they may sometimes need to do a vaginal (internal) examination. This helps your GP check your womb and ovaries.
Your GP may:
- arrange blood tests to check if you are immune to rubella and varicella (chickenpox)
- do some hormone tests (including thyroid tests)
- refer you for specialist tests to check for causes of fertility problems - these may be at a regional fertility hub
- arrange a test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - sometimes you can do the STI test yourself