The path to fatherhood can be a short and smooth one, or it can be a long and windy journey with bumps along the way. Whatever’s in store for you and your partner, the most important things to remember are: stay healthy, stay positive and stay informed.
At least 3 months before trying
Get healthier, together.
To have the best chance of a healthy pregnancy, both parents need to be in best possible shape before trying to conceive. Many factors affect the quality of a man’s sperm and the chance of having a heathy baby.
It takes around three months for new sperm to fully develop, so healthy habits should begin at least three months before trying to have a baby.
- If you're concerned about your weight, talk to your doctor about your options
- If you smoke, quit!
- Stay away from recreational drugs, like marijuana and steroids
- Limit your alcohol intake
- A healthy diet and regular exercise set you on a path for a healthy weight
- Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals at work and in your home
- If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor to make sure it's under control
- Discuss any medications you take, both prescription and over-the-counter, with your doctor
Make an appointment to see your doctor for a health check before trying for pregnancy.
Want to know more? Go to yourfertility.org.au for the most current information about what you can do to improve your chances of having a baby.
A woman can’t get pregnant at any time – timing is key!
The ‘fertile window’ in the menstrual cycle is the five days leading up to, and the day of, ovulation when an egg is released from the ovary.
Ovulation happens approximately 14 days before a woman’s period starts. If she has 28 day cycles, days 12, 13 and 14 are the most fertile. It’s a good idea for both men and women to keep track of dates — this is just the beginning of shared responsibilities!
Need more info on ovulation? Check out the ‘Timing’ page and ovulation calculator on yourfertility.org.au.
12 (or less) months
A lot can happen in a year.
Getting pregnant doesn’t always happen straight away. Only two-thirds of all couples conceive within three months of trying. Most couples conceive within 12 months, so if you’ve been trying for less than 12 months, keep trying.
12 (or more) months
It’s time to make a doctor’s appointment — for both of you.
If you and your partner have been trying for 12 months or more without success, it’s time to see your doctor.
If the female partner is over 35, consider getting help after trying for six months. If you have a history of testicular cancer or other specific health problems, you may want to see your doctor earlier to save time down the track.
Conversations, examinations and testing.
Your doctor will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination. They’ll also refer you for a semen analysis.
If everything seems in order, your doctor may advise you to keep trying for a little longer.
Semen analysis results — what happens next?
The semen analysis will check the number, movement and shape of the sperm in your ejaculate. If your test results indicate a problem with the sperm, your doctor will refer you to a male fertility specialist.
Referral to a fertility specialist
If the problem is with your partner, your doctor will refer you and your partner to a fertility specialist to discuss potential treatment options.
Problems with fertility — they happen, but there may be help.
Most people take their fertility for granted and do not expect to have problems conceiving.
However, one in nine couples experience fertility difficulties.
Some people find it helpful to discuss their feelings with a psychologist or counsellor. Others feel better if they take action by starting treatment.
What are the options?
Once the cause of any fertility problems have been pinpointed, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. These will vary depending on the cause.
For male fertility problems, where assisted reproductive treatments are required, the options are:
- Artificial insemination of the male partner’s semen into the female partner’s uterus at or just before the time of ovulation (intrauterine insemination)
- Directly injecting a single sperm into each egg to achieve fertilisation (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI))
- Donor sperm (donor insemination)
- Learn more about assisted reproductive treatment options at varta.org.au.
If you’re thinking of becoming a father, it’s smart to know what lies ahead. Keep this roadmap in mind, but remember there are lots of paths to becoming a father. If you’re ready, start getting as healthy as possible. If you’ve already started trying, and it’s taking a while to conceive, your GP can talk through options or refer you and your partner to a specialist.