The conventional wisdom is that a couple should wait to see a doctor until they’ve tried to conceive for a full year. But is that really the best advice? If you’re familiar with my teachings, you already know where I’m going with this. The answer is a resounding NO!

For one thing, if a woman knows how to chart her cycles with the Fertility Awareness Method, and therefore knows when to time intercourse perfectly or is able to quickly discern that she may have a problem with her cycles, she needn’t waste time by postponing treatment for a full year.

And for those who don’t chart their cycles, they may be unwittingly misled to believe they have a fertility issue. Why is that? Because the most obvious solutions are often overlooked, leading people to seek medical advice from doctors who are trained to identify disease and illness, often by diagnosing and treating with the use of high-tech procedures.

A good example of this is the relationship between frequency of intercourse and pregnancy. A couple may have sex twice a week for a year and wonder why they have not gotten pregnant. A clinician may proceed with a fertility workup (including invasive and potentially painful tests) on the assumption that the couple may have a fertility issue, without considering the most rudimentary question, namely, whether the couple is having intercourse at the most fertile time in the woman’s cycle. It is quite possible to still miss the fertile phase each cycle, especially if the woman has only a day or so of fertile cervical fluid, or the man’s sperm count is marginal. This is clearly not a fertility problem, but an education problem.

So what does all of this have to do with a boy with a hammer? This concept of overlooking fundamental principles is demonstrated by Abraham Kaplan’s theory, The Law of the Instrument:

Give a small boy a hammer,

and he will find that everything

he encounters needs pounding.

Doctors have a vested interest in using the tools that they have perfected through years of study. It should come as no surprise, then, that infertility specialists initially apply the high-tech tools of the trade. This is very helpful for scores of couples dealing with actual infertility. However, there are many couples for whom the use of these tests and procedures is simply unnecessary. Before any high-tech tests or treatments are employed, the man should have a semen analysis. In addition, the woman should chart her fertility signs to both identify when she is the most fertile and to determine any possible impediments to pregnancy achievement.