Dossier: Planning a family

Planning a family: What to do if you don’t fall pregnant?

Life doesn’t always go to plan. It’s stressful if you don’t fall pregnant straight away, Don’t be afraid to seek help. We’ve got a few tips that could help.

Tip 1: Reduce stress

Severe stress, crises or life-changing experiences can lead to fertility being restricted for a certain period of time. This is known as temporary infertility or subfertility. For example, your cycle may become irregular for psychosomatic reasons. If you put yourself under too much pressure, your sex life and relationship can suffer.

Relaxing and being patient can help ease the pressure and reduce stress. Physical exercises tailored to the desire for children, autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation can have a positive effect. And importantly – don’t give up hope too soon. It’s perfectly normal even for a physically healthy couple to take up to a year to get pregnant. The chances of conceiving are no more than 20 to 30% per cycle, decreasing with age.

Tip 2: Relax and reconnect with your partner

Examinations and treatments are exhausting. They put you and your relationship under strain. Remember what you used to like to do before starting treatment. What did you enjoy doing as a couple? Make time for each other away from the stress of trying for a baby and focus on the positives of your marriage or partnership.

Tip 3: cycle - determine your fertile days

As there are only a few days in a cycle when you can fall pregnant, it's a good idea to track your fertile days. There are a range of electronic trackers on the market, such as the  Daysy tracker . If you have a busy schedule or don’t see each other often, it can be reassuring to know exactly when you ovulate.

Tip 4: Prepare responses to people’s questions

Consider in advance how you want to respond to questions such as “Don’t you want to have children?”. Many people find it a relief to be honest. However, it’s up to you whether you want to talk about it or not.

Tip 5: Find a self-help group

It can often be comforting to speak to people who are going through a similar situation. You can understand one another’s problems and insecurities, benefit from other experiences and see things from a new perspective.

On the Stiftung Selbsthilfe Schweiz website, you’ll find self-help groups, virtual self-help offers and a list of groups and people who are looking to share experiences.

Tip 6: Seek medical advice

The doctor can perform a series of relatively simple tests to try and determine why you’re unable to fall pregnant. The man should be tested first, because in 30 to 40% of cases, the cause of childlessness lies with the man. And the male examinations are much easier than those for women.


  • Semen analysis (tests quality and quantity of the sperm)
  • Examination of the testicles, e.g. to diagnose an epididymal obstruction
  • Hormone testing


  • Analysis of ovulation
  • If ovulation is regular: Test for hormonal imbalance (corpus luteum weakness, prolactin levels)
  • If no hormonal imbalances: Examination of the cervix; Observe and document the cervical mucus throughout a cycle
  • If ovulation is irregular: Test for polycystic ovaries (PCO); hysteroscopy (myoma, polyps, growths, deformations); laparoscopy (permeability of the Fallopian tubes, shape and size of the womb, ovaries and Fallopian tubes); falloposcopy (permeability of the Fallopian tubes)
  • Examination of rhesus factors of both partners
  • Examination of blood values for coagulation disorder
  • Test for a thyroid disorder
  • Examination of glucose metabolism (diabetes)
  • Test for autoimmune disease or immune disorder
  • After miscarriages or premature births: test for chromosomal abnormalities

If the cause of infertility is not found, other diagnostic tests are available. Please consult your doctor. A second opinion can also help.

Tip 7: Visit a fertility clinic

Thanks to advances in medicine, many cases of infertility can now be treated successfully. So there are options that may enable you to still have children. These range from hormone treatments all the way through to artificial insemination. This knowledge can be reassuring, but don’t forget that reproductive medical procedures are often time-consuming and expensive. It’s therefore important for you to consider all your options early on in the process.

Your gynaecologist or fertility clinic can give you help and advice.

Recommended reading

  • “Conquering Infertility: Dr Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping With Infertility” by Alice D. Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly, Penguin Books 2004
  • “What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant: The Complete Guide to All the Technologies for Couples Facing Fertility Problems” by Daniel A. Potter and Jennifer S. Hanin, Da Capo Lifelong Books
  • "Enhancing Fertility Naturally: Holistic Therapies for a Successful Pregnancy" by Nicky Wesson, Inner Traditions Intl Ltd
  • “The Complete Guide to Fertility and Family Planning” by Sarah Freeman and Vern L. Bullough, Prometheus Books