What is infertility?

Infertility is classified as no pregnancy after 6-12 months of unprotected intercourse.

There are many possible causes of infertility among males and females:

  • 30% of infertility is due to female factors alone
  • 30% of infertility is due to male factors alone
  • 30% of infertility is due to both female and male factors
  • Up to 10% of infertility remains unexplained

There may also be male or female genetic factors that affect an embryo’s ability to develop and this may cause infertility or repeated miscarriage.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant and having regular intercourse for six months or more, call MyIVF and make a FREE no obligation appointment to talk about your options.

What impact does age have on fertility?

Both men and women have a reproductive lifespan.

As women are born with all the eggs they will ever produce, age becomes an issue. Female fertility decreases slightly at 30 years, and there is a significant decline around 37 to 38 years of age. By the time a woman is 40 years old, her fertility is a quarter of when she was 30. The miscarriage rate increases with age from about one in seven for women aged less than 25 years to about one in two at 40 years of age.

Lifestyle and Age Graph v2

What can we do – naturally – to improve our chances of becoming pregnant? 

There are many lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, diet and weight, which can affect the fertility of both men and women.

Healthy Diet

A good healthy diet will include fruit and vegetables each day, and good quality protein, such as in lean mean, fish, eggs, pulses (eg beans, lentils). You also need to consume complex carbohydrates, whole grains, plenty of calcium (preferably in the form of low fat dairy products). It is best to avoid excessive additives such as colours, flavours and preservatives and keep to a relatively low-fat diet which includes mainly healthy fats.


Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular moderate exercise can improve your chances of becoming pregnant. Obesity increases the risk of heart conditions, diabetes and hormonal imbalances, which can lead to infertility. If you are overweight, your body mass index (BMI) will be >25. The closer to a BMI 25 the better, and remember any weight loss in this situation will improve your fertility. See a dietician and exercise physiologist for expert individualised advice.

Women who are underweight (BMI >20) are also at risk of reduced fertility. If you are underweight and your period cycles are long or irregular, a small weight gain may be beneficial, or cut back on strenuous exercise.


You will benefit from being fit prior to pregnancy. For women who are unfit, developing at least a moderate level of fitness is advisable. However it is also best to limit intense or high-impact exercise and no more than 4 hours high intensity exercise per week is recommended. Men should also aspire to a reasonable level of fitness.


Smoking can affect the fertility of both males and females, causing erectile dysfunction and increased DNA damage to sperm and eggs. Smoking can also increase the risk of miscarriage when pregnant.

Alcohol & Drugs

Women should stop all alcohol while trying to conceive and during pregnancy, while men should aim to keep to current safe drinking guidelines – average two drinks per day maximum, with several alcohol free days each week and no more than four standard drinks in one session.

Marijuana and recreational drugs can also have detrimental effects on fertility.

What can my male partner do to help our chances of becoming pregnant?

At least 1 in 20 Australian men have a significant problem with their sperm quality leading to infertility. And defects in sperm quality are the sole or contributing factor in over half of all of these cases. Along with the lifestyle recommendations, men may benefit from a male sperm health vitamin such as Menevit. Working in very hot environments or using laptop computers on the lap can be associated with lower fertility for men.

Are there any supplements I should be taking to prepare for pregnancy?

Folate supplementation (at least 800 micrograms per day) is recommended at least one month prior to pregnancy and for three months into the pregnancy as this reduces the chance of the baby having a defect in the neural tube, such as spina bifida. Folate can be taken alone or in combination with other pre-pregnancy supplements.

Does stress affect my chances of becoming pregnant?

Maintaining a positive state of mind improves your health and wellbeing and your chances of a successful pregnancy. A degree of stress in life is unavoidable, but how you deal with it is important. Communication and support networks are vital to help getting through this process. If needed, MyIVF can refer you to qualified counsellors with extensive therapeutic experience who have specialised skills and knowledge in the field of infertility.

How long should we try naturally to start a family before seeking medical help?

If you have been trying to get pregnant for 12 months or more and you are under the age of 35, then it’s recommended that you seek fertility advice. If you are 36 or older, you may wish to get advice after trying for 6 months or even less if you are 40 or older.

If you have specific concerns about your fertility such as recurrent miscarriages, a history of endometriosis, irregular cycles or chlamydia/pelvic inflammatory disease, or if you have a family history of early menopause, you may wish to seek advice earlier than the above guidelines.

What are the risks to my baby if I need IVF to get pregnant?

Long-term studies have not shown an increase in risks to babies and children who are born following standard IVF procedures. ICSI or the microinjection technique has been associated with a small (approximately 2%) increase in risk in some congenital abnormalities and the exact cause for this is not known. These days the ICSI or microinjection technique is used very commonly as it improves the fertilisation of eggs and sperm to become embryos in certain circumstances. It is not done routinely unless medically indicated.

If we use frozen embryos are there any risks to the baby?

It has been shown that pregnancies and children born from frozen embryo transfer cycles do not have any increase in abnormalities and that in some circumstances there may be some benefits. You will receive further information regarding any risks to the baby from the MyIVF Fertility Team at your initial appointment.

Zika Virus & Pregnancy

Data involving Zika, its transmission and infectivity, and its adverse effects on fetuses and adults is changing daily. Guidance based on current knowledge is iterative as our understanding of this virus rapidly changes. Any guidance published today may not be accurate for counseling and treatment of individuals tomorrow. Refer to the CDC Zika website for the most updated information: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/

SUMMARY TABLE. CDC recommendations for preconception counseling and prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus among persons with possible Zika virus exposure – United States, August 2018

Exposure Scenario Recommendations (update status)
Only the male partner travels to an area with risk for Zika virus transmission and couple planning to conceive The couple should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least 3 months after the male partner’s symptom onset (if symptomatic) or last possible Zika virus exposure (if asymptomatic). (Updated recommendation)
Only the female partner travels to an area with risk for Zika virus transmission and couple planning to conceive The couple should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least 2 months (8 weeks) after the female partner’s symptom onset (if symptomatic) or last possible Zika virus exposure (if asymptomatic).
(No change in recommendation)
Both partners travel to an area with risk for Zika virus transmission and couple planning to conceive The couple should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least 3 months from the male partner’s symptom onset (if symptomatic) or last possible Zika virus exposure (if asymptomatic).
(Updated recommendation)
One or both partners have ongoing exposure (i.e., live in or frequently travel to an area with risk for Zika virus transmission) and couple planning to conceive The couple should talk with their health care provider about their plans for pregnancy, their risk for Zika virus infection, the possible health effects of Zika virus infection on a baby, and ways to protect themselves from Zika. If either partner develops symptoms of Zika virus infection or test positive for Zika virus infection, the couple should follow the suggested timeframes listed above before trying to conceive.
(No change in recommendation)
Men with possible Zika virus exposure whose partner is pregnant The couple should use condoms or abstain from sex for the duration of pregnancy.
(No change in recommendation)

Source: Polen, KD, Gilboa SM, Hills S, Oduyebo T, Kohl KS, Brooks JT, et al. Update: Interim Guidance for Preconception Counseling and Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus for Men with Possible Zika Virus Exposure – United States, August 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 67:868-71

Book your free consultation with a MyIVF Fertility Nurse to get all your questions answered today

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