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“I’m not getting pregnant and I don’t know why”

Finding answers to a seemingly unanswerable question

No one realizes how important fertility is until you’re struggling with it. So many websites and books offer quick tips: fertility smoothies, fertility diets, fertility prayers, fertility affirmations. But what do you do when, month after month, none of them work? What do you do when your doctor simply says, “I’m sorry, but you have unexplained infertility, and I don’t know what’s causing it.”

Don’t get me wrong, getting your body in a healthy state to prepare for a baby is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your future child. But for many women - myself included - we can prepare and prepare as much as we like, but we just can’t seem to get pregnant. I know how hard it is, especially at the end of every cycle and you are still getting negative tests.

Hopefully, this blog post will help navigate you, and show you that there’s more to fertility than our western medical viewpoint. Had it not been for my two early miscarriages, my years of infertility, and the promising signs that my holistic regimen is working, I would not be writing this blog post with the optimistic perspective that I now have. I’m not claiming to provide you with a 100% solution, but I hope that you can find clarity, hope, and maybe a direction within this post. Here are five reasons you may not be getting pregnant, and what you can do to fix them.

Possible Reason #1: Your timing is off.

A lot of us grew up with the notion that if we have sex at all, at any point, we will get pregnant.

At first, it was something we were threatened with at 16. Now, however, it’s possibly our greatest wish. But what if I told you that that statement is totally wrong?

The possibility of pregnancy can only occur at one time in our cycle: when we are ovulating. Some of us already have bodies and cycles that allow for easy conception: a lot of wet, slippery cervical mucus (aka discharge), thick endometrial linings, a healthy egg supply, well-functioning hormones, and a uterus that just won’t quit. But even with all of that, you can only get pregnant during ovulation.

Ovulation occurs about halfway through your cycle, when a ripened egg (anyone else cringe at that phrase?) is released from your follicle. Most women only ovulate for 12 to 24 hours before the egg begins to disintegrate - unless it’s met by a sperm.

If you need help learning how to track your cycle and figure out when you should have sex to increase your chances of pregnancy, read my post on cycle charting! The best way is to track with a calendar or app, AND track your basal body temperature and ovulation (the Ava bracelet or Oura ring are perfect for this!).

When in doubt, aim to have sex every other day throughout the month, with a special emphasis of right after your period, during ovulation, and a few days afterward.

Possible Reason #2: You haven’t been trying long enough.

Let me be clear with this reasoning: many, many women - myself included - have been trying for too long without looking for other answers. This point is not for them.

There is a standard for how long it should take someone to get pregnant when actively trying. If you are under 35 and have been trying for 12 cycles (or one year) without any success, then it’s time to start figuring out what’s up. The same goes if you are over 35, but have been trying for 6 cycles without getting pregnant.

I always say that fertility is a pseudoscience. So much goes into the development of an egg (it takes ~100 days), the release of an egg, the meeting of egg and sperm, the journey to the uterus, implantation, and consequent development. The whole process is so incredibly delicate, it’s a miracle that humans can have children at all! For the healthiest of people with the most perfect timing, it’s a maximum of a 1 in 3 chance (33%) that you will get pregnant any given month (the average is 15-25% likely).

That said, if you have been actively trying for a year without getting pregnant, it’s time to start looking for a cause(s).

HOWEVER — I had a very strong feeling that there was something blocking me from getting pregnant, especially after I had already gotten pregnant twice before (both times I miscarried). I felt this from the very beginning: there was something the matter with me. I didn’t know what it was, my husband hated that I insisted on it (“You’re healthy; these things just take time”), and no doctor could find any reason why. I insisted with my OB at the time to run test after test. I had to force her to do so. Eventually, I found a new OB who advocated for me. Having a medical professional who says, “I believe you, now let’s figure this out” is SO important. Find a curious doctor. Better yet, and I’ll cover this in a bit, find a curious naturopath, too. My point here is, if you feel like there is something that is wrong - find answers NOW. Don’t wait until you’ve miscarried three times or been trying for a year or more (those are the standards before check up). It will be so much better for you in the long run, and so much better for your mental health.

Possible Reason #3: You’re stressed, and your body knows it.

Listen, I know I can’t just tell you to not be stressed and you’ll be like, “Oh, rad, I’m cured!”. We all know that stress is T E R R I B L E for your body. Not only does it cause disease, chronic pain, poor mental health, and bad habits, but it also can detrimentally effect your chances of conception. Story after story tell about the women who tried for month after month with nothing, and then the one time they decided to not focus on getting pregnant, they did. “Don’t be stressed” is stupid advice… BUT, there are things you can do to lower, manage, and even overcome your stress.

I’m going to do a plug for Jesus right now, because my stress management would be in the gutter without him. Listen to me or not, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about this. The only thing that has carried me through two miscarriages, nearly four years of infertility, and not being able to find a reason why is my faith. And I’m not talking 1950’s-White-American faith; I’m talking about going straight to the Bible for help and hope. The story of Hannah, in particular, has been something I have heavily relied on. God knows. He hears my pleas, my crying, and my desires. I serve a God who cries, too. But I also believe that the “reason” for my suffering is so that I can write these very words, for you. The ultimate goal of my life isn’t to have kids (although that is a goal). My purpose, my reason for being here is to share Christ, his sacrifice, and his love - all available for anyone who wants it.

If we want to effectively manage stress, you have to have a proper place for it in your worldview. Analyze your beliefs, your ideals, and your values. Do they bring joy? Do they explain the world? Do they answer the hard questions, like why bad things happen, in a way that is both logical and in line with reality? Additionally, look at people in your life who can handle a lot of stress - how do they do it? what do they believe? what do they practice?

If all of this is a bit too “woo woo” for you, then here’s something practical you can do: practice intentional gratitude. You are not in control of your first thought, but you ARE in control of your second, third, fourth, etc. If you find yourself stressed, jealous, or anxious, begin to counteract those thoughts by intentionally going over things that you are grateful for. Don’t just leave gratitude for your morning journaling; do it throughout the day. Every time you have a negative thought, recognize it, and then say, “I understand that I am hurting. But, I also want to recognize how grateful I am for __.”

There are times to be stressed. We live in a stressful world. It may seem nice to be happy all the time, but that’s just not practical (or like, mentally-sound). Don’t push out stress - figure out the root cause and address that. Learn how to effectively manage your response to stress, instead of trying to control it/the situation. You’ll be so much more the better for it.

Believe, insist, and affirm that you are worthy, deserving, and allowed to get pregnant. Because you are! It’s important to remind yourself of that, and find a doctor who believes in that for you, too.

Possible Reason #4A: You both need to get tested.

My aunt wasn’t getting pregnant, no matter what she did - and she was perfectly healthy! Her doctor recommended that both her and her husband get tested. He was fine, but a HSG (hysterosalpingography) showed that her fallopian tubes were completely blocked from scar tissue. The only way she could get pregnant was with IVF. When they did their first cycle, she didn’t just produce one to two eggs, or even the average of 8-14 eggs. SHE HAD 26. If it weren’t for her blocked tubes, she would’ve been pushing kids out like the US government prints money.

The moral here is that she AND her husband both got tested. I’m emphasizing the husband part because it’s estimated that up to 40% of infertility is because of the male partner!

I’ve been tested, and so has my husband. It’s standard protocol to undergo a blood screening, hormone testing, sperm analysis, an HSG, and an ultrasound when you can’t get pregnant. If you haven’t gone to see a doctor yet, schedule it now. If my aunt had kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting, she would have waited forever. It’s so much better to know than to wait for nothing, especially if you have a feeling that something isn’t right.

I’m also going to be up front about cost. I would estimate that I’ve paid around $800-1000 to be tested. The biggest expenses are the HSG ($500 alone, ugh) and the ultrasound ($200). Our insurance didn’t cover extensive fertility testing either, so we paid the raw costs.

When I was procrastinating getting tested, my fears were twofold: I was afraid of getting an answer, and I was afraid of not getting any answer at all. Unfortunately AND fortunately, there were no issues on any of our tests. So why was I not getting pregnant?

Possible Reason #4B: You both need to be tested by a holistic practitioner, too.

Perhaps you’ve done everything I’ve already listed. You’re timing correctly, you’ve been trying for the better part of a year, you properly manage your stress, and you’ve both been tested. So, what now? See a holistic practitioner.

I cannot emphasize this enough, because this is the step where I finally got a diagnosis beyond, “We just don’t know.” My journey has led me to a holistic nutritionist who put me a on a blood cell parasite detox, a chiropractor who aligned me and pushed me towards cleaner eating habits, and an acupuncturist who diagnosed me with a blood deficiency, as recognized by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I’ll get into my full diagnoses in another post, because I find it so fascinating (and I’ve been seeing incredible results!).

The point of integrative/functional/holistic health + medicine is to find the root cause and treat that, instead of simply treating the symptoms. There is a period of detox, during which you feel terrible. It’s a “you get worse before you get better” type of deal. But if you stick with the lifestyle changes, the supplements, and the diet your practitioner recommends, you will see your symptoms begin to disappear. You begin to feel so much better.

If you’ve grown up in western, “modern” medicine and are used to that process, you may find holistic health to be weird, witchy, and stinky. And honestly, it kind of is. But the alternative isn’t that great, either. Modern medicine isn’t about curing you, it’s about keeping you alive - and those are two very different objectives. I want you to thrive, and not simply survive.

If you aren’t getting any answers from your regular care physician + OB/GYN, make some time to see a holistic nutritionist/chiropractor who does both, or an integrative doctor. Find one you like, even if you need to drive a ways. You may just find the answer you’ve been looking for. You can find a holistic practitioner here.

Possible Reason #5: You have an underlying condition.

This reason ties into points 4A/B, or it may even be a preexisting condition that you’re aware of, but unsure how it ties to fertility. If you are trying to get pregnant despite a negative diagnosis, your weight/hormones are out of whack, or you are taking medication for another ailment, it all could be interfering with your chances at conceiving. You may even have ovulatory/uterine issues like luteal phase defect, blood deficiency, PCOS, endometriosis, abnormal uterine structure… the list could go on. You may even have a parasitic infection that you don’t know about. But diagnosis and PROPER treatment for the root cause is the BEST way to get to a healthy place for having a kid.

There are a lot of reasons you may not be getting pregnant right away, especially if you’re coming off of hormonal birth control (and even more especially if you’ve been on it for years). Your hormones need to learn to regulate themselves properly again. Your body needs to get back into the swing of ovulation. If you’re unhealthy, living in a heavily toxic environment, or malnourished (AKA not receiving enough nutrients from food), your body may be protecting itself. A baby requires A LOT of nutrients, minerals, and energy to create. Your body is smarter than you may be giving it credit for; it may purposefully be sabotaging ovulation/pregnancy because it recognizes that it can barely support itself, much less another body.

Don’t let any of this discourage you, however. Your focus should not be a positive test; your focus should be on turning your body into a healthy home before baby even arrives. The healthier you are before conception, the healthy your baby will be, the easier your pregnancy and delivery will be, and the faster your postpartum recovery will be.

As one want-to-be to another, just know that you are loved, valued, worthy, and deserving of this. Taking care of yourself first isn’t selfish; it’s important and vital for creating a healthy child. One day, not too far off, you will be grateful that you started your journey towards health + happiness now.


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