Why Am I Not Getting Pregnant?
Medically Reviewed by Ashley Roman, MD, MPH
Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY
Another negative pregnancy test. It's disappointing to receive that "no" result every month. You ask yourself, "Why am I not getting pregnant?" You aren't alone. About 10 percent of women—6.1 million—in the United States ages 15 to 44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most healthy couples trying to conceive and are having unprotected sex often get pregnant in a year. Need some help? Don't be ashamed. Contact your health care provider. The sooner you see a doctor, the more likely you are to get pregnant. It is generally recommended you see a fertility specialist if:
- You are under the age of 35 and haven't gotten pregnant after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.
- You are over the age of 35 and haven't gotten pregnant after 6 months of unprotected intercourse.
Find out some common and often treatable reasons why you aren't getting pregnant.
You're not ovulating.
If you're trying to get pregnant, you likely have ovulation on the brain. Ovulation is the process where your body releases one or more eggs from your ovaries. If the egg is fertilized and implants successfully, you're pregnant. If you miss this ovulation window, you can't get pregnant. Women can have different signs that they're ovulating, and some may not have any indicators at all. The timing of ovulation varies. For some women, it happens on a different day every month. For others, it's on the same day of their monthly cycle, like clockwork. Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, can cause irregular menstrual cycles and is one of the most common reasons women don't ovulate. PCOS doesn't have a cure. But effective treatments include lifestyle changes like losing weight (even a small reduction can make a difference) and increasing exercise. You can also take medications to help regulate your menstrual cycle or stimulate ovulation. Learn about signs you're ovulating.
When you're trying to get pregnant in your 20s, time and biology are on your side. At this stage, your body is ready for pregnancy. Experts say that the average woman's fertility peaks during her early 20s, and you have the highest number of quality eggs at this stage. So, from a biological perspective, it's the best decade for conceiving and carrying a baby. The risk of miscarriage is also lower. The Cleveland Clinic says studies show that the risk of miscarriage is 12 percent to 15 percent for women in their 20s compared to about 25 percent for women at age 40. It's also physically easier for women in their 20s to carry a child because there's a lower risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and other health complications. And younger women are less likely to have low birthweight or premature babies. For women after age 35 and men after age 40, it can take longer to get pregnant. Age impacts egg quality and quantity, even if you're still getting regular periods. Find out more about the best time to get pregnant.
It's his problem.
One-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues. The Mayo Clinic says that problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some reasons include infections that interfere with sperm production or sperm health, ejaculation issues, tumors, hormone imbalances and certain medications. Some lifestyle-related causes of male infertility include alcohol, drug or tobacco use; stress and obesity. Learn more about the male side of infertility.
You have endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that results when the tissue that lines the uterus also grows outside of the uterus. This tissue builds up and forms adhesions that can attach to the bladder, bowel, vagina and other places within the reproductive tract. These adhesions build with every menstrual cycle. Unlike the lining that is shed during a woman's period, the tissue that builds up outside the uterus remains. This can cause severe pain for women, along with other symptoms such as heavy or irregular bleeding, cramping, painful intercourse and stomach problems like constipation. The condition can impact a woman's quality of life, interfere with her relationships—and affect fertility. Find out how to use a fertility calculator.
Your fallopian tubes are blocked.
Fallopian tubes are the path between the ovaries and uterus. You want to make sure your tubes are open. Otherwise, the sperm and egg can't meet here since the fallopian tube is where the two meet. Causes of blocked tubes include pelvic inflammatory disease, history of abdominal surgery or current or history of an STD infection like gonorrhea or chlamydia. Testing can determine if your tubes are blocked. Check out these early pregnancy symptoms before you miss your period.
You're under- or overweight.
Being too thin or too heavy can interrupt your hormone function. Having a normal-range BMI (body mass index) is the healthiest way to try to conceive. Speak with a nutritionist about managing your weight. He can come up with a plan that's right for you. And check out these 19 ways to boost your fertility.