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Dealing with infertility: When is the right time to seek medical help?

Dr Freeman Osonuga



Culturally, new couples in our environment come under a lot of pressure as regards conception, in some families, marriage rites won’t be initiated until the bride is confirmed to be pregnant and in most others its right from the wedding reception that families will jokingly tell guests that in 9 months’ time, they will invite them again for baby’s naming ceremony. This kind of societal expectation is invariably putting new couples under intense pressure.


When should a couple seeking to conceive seek medical attention? What conditions must be met before a couple can be said to be infertile? A couple must have had regular unprotected sexual intercourse for at least one year. It is failure to conceive despite this that is called Infertility but since this inability isn’t absolute, the term Subfertility is more appropriate.
In couples trying to conceive, the sexual intercourse has to be regular and by this we mean that sex must be at least 2-3 times a week. But in certain situations, maybe due to living apart or work schedules, couples aren’t able to have sex 2-3 times a week,  such couples haven’t met an essential part of the criteria to warrant them to be termed subfertile. The sexual intercourse also has to be unprotected, that is, none of the partners must be on any methods of contraception whether short or long term contraceptives.

I have had complaints from couples who have been trying to conceive for 3 months;?until it is regular and unprotected sex for 1 year, we can’t call it a case of subfertility because It is estimated that 60 percent of married couples having regular unprotected sexual intercourse will achieve conception within 6 months, 90 percent would achieve pregnancy after 12 months, and 95 percent in 18 to 24 months.
Subfertility is classified as either primary or secondary. If the couple have not conceived any child together before, this is termed as primary subfertility but if they have conceived a child together before irrespective of the outcome, it’s called secondary subfertility.


So, before you say a couple is subfertile, they must be having regular unprotected sexual intercourse for 1 year, however if the woman/wife is more than 35 years , it’s advisable to start seeking medical attention after 6 months.
Till I come your way soon with more enlightening posts on this subject,

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Dr Freeman Osonuga is a multi-award winning Humanitarian, Social Enterprise Consultant, International Public Speaker and Medical Professional. An Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, a One Young World Ambassador, a WIRED 2015 Innovation Fellow, 2014 TIME Magazine Person of the Year and One of the 2013 Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Nigeria. He is also a recipient of Meritorious Service Award from President Bai Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone and One of the Fabulous and Inspiring People of Colour of the Year 2015. Dr Freeman advocates for health care services to be fully accessible and affordable by all. He can be reached on the following social media platforms. Instagram: freemanosonuga, Twitter: @freeman_osonuga, Facebook: Freeman Osonuga, Website: