For some couples, getting pregnant is quick and easy. For others, things are not as easy.
Sometimes, problems are linked to such specific physiological issues as blocked fallopian tubes in the woman or low to no sperm count in the man -- problems that can be addressed by a fertility specialist and subsequent treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or insemination.
For many others, however, reasons behind their infertility are much harder to define.
"Often, problems are subclinical -- meaning we know something is wrong, it's just not showing up on the radar," says Staci Pollack, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Montefiore Medical Center's Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Health.
Pollack says standard fertility treatments can usually help, but in some cases, so can a host of other, less costly techniques -- some of which couples can try on their own.
The key to success: Knowing when to try -- and when it's time for more serious medical treatment. The good news: Doctors say both options can be clearly mapped out with the help of a medical fertility workup. Designed to rule out specific causes that require medical care, test results can also help you decide if any of these low-tech treatments are worth a try.
And what if you aren't anticipating a problem but just want to give your fertility a boost? Some of these low-tech methods can work for you as well. Just keep in mind that the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says if you don't get pregnant after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse -- or six months if you are a woman over 35 -- it's time to seek help from a fertility specialist.
Among the most common causes of unexplained infertility in women is "ovulatory dysfunction" -- an umbrella term encompassing problems with ovulation.
Though a number of factors can be responsible, many doctors now believe diet is one of the keys. In a study of some 17,000 women conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers were able to define a group of "fertility foods" able to improve conception odds.