FertilityFor You

It’s Not So Easy Getting Pregnant

By December 2, 2021No Comments

Having a baby isn’t always as straightforward as it might be, and there can be a number of potential explanations for low fertility.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve — or someone you know has — been trying for a while for a baby, but without much luck (so far).

And that’s OK. It’s actually, believe it or not, quite common – infertility affects as many as one in four Irish couples, so you’re far from alone. But obviously, that’s little consolation.

What’s most important is why you’re not getting pregnant, and, of course, what can be done to boost your chances of having a baby.

The human body is inherently complex. And that’s both a good and bad thing. When it comes to your fertility, it means that there are a number of possible reasons, including ovulation irregularities, structural problems in the reproductive system, low sperm count, or an underlying medical problem.

By and large, most couples who have been trying for a baby without success find their infertility can be explained by one of the following eight reasons:-

  1. Not Ovulating

As you’ll no doubt remember from biology lessons, human conception requires an egg and sperm. Remove one of these and the chances of success are nil.


If you’re not ovulating, you won’t be able to get pregnant. Anovulation (the lack or absence of ovulation), as it’s known, is a common cause of female infertility and it can be triggered by many conditions.

PCOS is one possible cause of anovulation. Other possible causes include being over or underweight, primary ovarian insufficiency, a thyroid dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia, and excessive exercise.

Most women who are experiencing ovulation problems have irregular periods. However, regular menstrual cycles are not a guarantee that ovulation is occurring. If you have irregular cycles, talk to your doctor, even if you haven’t been trying for a year yet.

  1. Low Sperm Count

Women may carry the baby, but the man’s role is equally important. Between 20-30% of infertile couples discover fertility factors on the man’s side. Another 40% discover infertility factors on both sides[1].

[1] Leaver RB. Male infertility: an overview of causes and treatment options. Br J Nurs. 2016;25(18):S35-S40. doi:10.12968/bjon.2016.25.18.S35

low sperm count


It’s important to bear in mind that male infertility rarely has symptoms that are observable without a semen analysis, which is a test that measures the health of the semen and sperm. So, when if and when you do make an appointment to see your GP, make sure you are both tested.

  1. Not Trying Long Enough

Assuming you’re ovulating and your partner’s sperm is of a sufficient quality and quantity, it’s worth looking at how long you have been trying to conceive.

It may feel like you’ve been trying forever—and perhaps you have!—but it’s important to know that many couples won’t conceive right away.

fertility sex

Approximately 80% of couples conceive after six months of trying, while this figure rises to 90% after 12 months. This assumes you have well-timed intercourse every month.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor are babies. If you’re fit and healthy and 35 years or older, it’s worth speaking with your GP about your fertility if you have been trying for a baby for over six months without falling pregnant. If you’re younger than 35, it’s advisable to consult with your GP if you have been trying for a baby for 12 months of over without success.


  1. Age-Related Infertility

Some sobering statistics:-

  • A woman’s prime reproductive years are in her 20s.
  • Fertility gradually declines in the 30s, particularly after age 35.
  • Each month that she tries, a healthy, fertile 30-year-old woman has a 20% chance of getting pregnant.

Age impacts egg (and sperm) quality as well as quantity. Furthermore, if your partner is five or more years older than you are, this can further increase your risk of fertility problems after age 35.4

  1. Blocked Fallopian Tubes

Ovulatory problems accounts for about 25% of female infertility cases[2]. The rest can have problems with blocked Fallopian tubes, uterine structural problems or endometriosis.

[2] Sasaki RS, Approbato MS, Maia MC, Fleury EA, Giviziez CR, Zanluchi N. Patients’ auto report of regularity of their menstrual cycles. Medical history is very reliable to predict ovulation. A cross-sectional study. JBRA Assist Reprod. 2016;20(3):118-122. doi:10.5935/1518-0557.20160027

blocked fallopian tubes

The Fallopian tubes are the pathway between your ovaries and the uterus. The Fallopian tubes do not directly attach to the ovaries; sperm need to swim up from the cervix, through the uterus, and into the Fallopian tubes.

When an egg is released from the ovaries, hair-like projections from the Fallopian tube draw the egg inside. Conception takes place inside the Fallopian tube, where the sperm and egg finally meet.

If anything prevents the Fallopian tubes from working properly, or if scarring blocks the sperm or egg from meeting, you won’t be able to get pregnant.

There are many possible causes of blocked Fallopian tubes. While some women with blocked tubes experience pelvic pain, many others have no symptoms. Only fertility testing, which can be carried out by your OB/GYN, can determine if your tubes are open.

  1. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Studies have shown that approximately 50% of women with endometriosis will have difficulty getting pregnant[3].

[3] Macer ML, Taylor HS. Endometriosis and infertility: a review of the pathogenesis and treatment of endometriosis-associated infertility. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2012;39(4):535-549. doi:10.1016/j.ogc.2012.10.002


Endometriosis is unfortunately commonly misdiagnosed or simply just missed. It can’t be diagnosed with a blood test or ultrasound. Instead, it requires diagnostic laparoscopic surgery. Because of this, proper diagnosis takes an average of 4.4 years.



  1. Underlying Medical Problems

In addition to the more obvious causes, underlying medical conditions can also lead to infertility in both men and women.

For example, a thyroid imbalance or even undiagnosed diabetes can lead to infertility. While it’s not well understood, depression is also associated with infertility.

Furthermore, some autoimmune diseases, like lupus and undiagnosed sexually-transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can cause infertility[4].

[4] Hanson B, Johnstone E, Dorais J, Silver B, Peterson CM, Hotaling J. Female infertility, infertility-associated diagnoses, and comorbidities: a review. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017;34(2):167-177. doi:10.1007/s10815-016-0836-8

  1. Unexplained Infertility

Between 10% and 30% of infertile couples never find out why they can’t get pregnant. Some doctors say this is a lack of good diagnosis. They say there is no such thing as unexplained infertility, but only undiscovered or undiagnosed problems.

The fact remains, though, that some couples don’t get answers. However, not having answers doesn’t mean you can’t be treated. You can (and should) still receive treatment for infertility, even if your diagnosis is unexplained.

In Summary

The reasons for infertility may not always be observable to the lay person.

If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, it’s important to seek professional advice. The sooner you get help, the more likely fertility treatments will work for you.

Ovulation Calculator

nutritional facts

nutritional facts

Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists


Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins



Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist


Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists


Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife


Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic


Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Lisa Corcoran

Business Development Executive


Lisa has 15 years of commercial business experience. She has proven her capabilities in Investment Property Sales and, Management & Business Development for Technology companies that have provided her with an understanding of different customer needs across several sectors. Lisa appreciates the value of customer education and relationship building in long-lasting partnerships.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer


Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.


What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales


What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.

Deborah Brock

Founder & CEO of Nua Fertility


Deborah has a personal passion for fertility health, supporting people and communities. With over 15 years experience of working in the Non profit and Education sector, I have had the honour of working together with people and communities focusing on their strengths, capacities and assets. With extensive senior management, project management and creative programme development experience.

How did your experience with fertility inspire you to help start Nua Fertility?

My own personal fertility journey opened my eyes to the world of fertility health. Trying for a baby is one of the most exciting yet vulnerable times in your life. It took myself and my husband over three years and the helping hand of science to become a mum.  I have always worked with people and communities and felt my vision for Nua Fertility could genuinely support others who have fertility challenges.

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

I'm am curious person and love all things research. My ideal evening would be reading and exploring scientific journals! I like to think I am a little bit creative and I LOVE paint by numbers! Its probably the only time I slow down, I become immersed in the painting and think of nothing else.

What do you want to tell someone trying to conceive or already pregnant?

Educate yourself! Knowledge is power. The more you inform yourself about your fertility health the more you are empowering yourself with knowledge. Own your journey and take control over your own fertility health.

What’s something you wish someone told you while trying to conceive?

Open up and talk with friends and family. I was surrounded by amazing friends and family but I never opened up. When your struggling to conceive, a non-judgemental ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on is so powerful.