Whether a couple is aware of a pre-existing medical condition, has had prior problems with fertility, or is frustrated with trying without result, there are many reasons they may seek help from an infertility specialist. They may feel scared or even embarrassed to think that something may be wrong.
If you're in this boat, here is some helpful information about what to expect during your infertility work-up, and what you can do to make the process a little easier.
Why Should We See an Infertility Specialist?
While some obstetricians/gynecologists may prescribe some medications for infertility, infertility specialists focus solely on evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of all types of infertility. These specialists are best able to fully manage any fertility issues.
When Should We See the Doctor?If you have been struggling to get pregnant for over a year, or are over 35 and have been trying for over six months, it’s highly recommended that you seek out the advice of a physician specially trained in reproductive endocrinology (an infertility specialist).
What Should I Bring With Me?
Bring some paper and a pen so that you can take notes and jot down important information to reference later. Write out some questions that you have ahead of time so that you don’t forget to ask anything in the visit. Before the appointment, sit down for a few minutes and think of any related symptoms you may be experiencing. List the dates of your last few periods, including how long they lasted. Have both your and your partner's medical history at hand. Keeping all of this important and relevant information organized and easily accessible during your appointment will make the visit more meaningful.
What Will Happen During the Visit?The doctor will ask about both of your medical histories to see if a procedure, illness or medical complication could be affecting your fertility. He or she will want to know about other aspects of your medical history, too, such as how old you were when you got your first period and how often and how regular your periods are. Your reproductive history is also important. How long have you been trying? What exactly are you doing (using an ovulation predictor kit, measuring basal body temperature, etc.)? The doctor may choose to perform a pelvic exam to check your reproductive organs for obvious abnormalities.
What Will Happen Next?
At this point, he or she will probably order a battery of tests to gather more information. The most common tests ordered include blood tests and a semen analysis, to determine if an abnormal sperm count or shape could be the problem. A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) may be performed if the doctor has reason to suspect that one of the fallopian tubes may be blocked. After all this testing is complete, you will probably meet with the doctor to review your results and develop a plan.
What is an HSG?During an HSG, dye is injected into the uterus through the cervix. Then, a series of x-rays are taken to determine if the dye is able to move through the fallopian tubes, or if one or both of them may be blocked. Such a blockage could prevent the sperm and egg from fertilizing, thus preventing pregnancy.