There’s no shortage of antepartum or postpartum talk online (i.e. bumps and babies), but one category that deserves just as much normalized conversation is infertility. It’s different for everyone, and it’s certainly not always conventionally linear. In fact, one in eight couples in the United States struggle to get and stay pregnant.
The good news is there are many resources to turn to and options to consider when it comes to the decision to grow your family. We’ve partnered with Fertility Out Loud to share the many benefits of visiting a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) and when to consider actually making an appointment.
Why learn about your fertility in the first place?
Fertility challenges can affect anyone and can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, health conditions, and lifestyle. So if you’re considering trying to conceive, it’s helpful to gain a better understanding of where you’re at with your own fertility first. Then, if needed, you can focus on treatment options that can help improve your chances of getting pregnant.
What can a fertility specialist do for you?
A reproductive endocrinologist is a doctor who is specifically trained in reproductive health. They can help you find out why you might be struggling to conceive as well as suggest potential solutions that are personalized for your individual needs. Essentially, a fertility specialist can make an overwhelming situation feel manageable by providing education, guidance, and assistance.
First, they’ll typically ask you questions about your experience trying to conceive and about you and your partner’s relevant medical history. This is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have and voice your concerns — like how to handle the cost of treatment and how each option may affect your body.
Your fertility specialist may also perform a variety of diagnostic tests, such as blood work, a semen analysis, an ultrasound assessment, and more. Blood work can help identify hormonal abnormalities or potential genetic factors that may contribute to infertility, while a semen analysis can help determine if sperm quality and quantity are within normal ranges. A fertility specialist may also check your uterus via a diagnostic hysteroscopy and perform an HSG test (also called a hysterosalpingogram test) to check for blockages in the fallopian tubes.
Basically, these tests can help provide answers as to why you might be having trouble getting or staying pregnant. Once your doctor has a better idea of what’s going on, they can then present you with viable treatment options such as ovarian induction (OI), intrauterine insemination (IUI), intravginal culture (IVC), and in vitro fertilization (IVF). In some cases, surgery to correct medical conditions may be advised.
If any of this seems overwhelming, just know that it’s a fertility specialist’s job to guide you through this process and help you make a decision that’s right for you.
When should you consider making an appointment with a fertility specialist?
To help you answer the if and when of this question, there are a few key factors to keep in mind when considering making an appointment with a fertility specialist. One generally agreed-upon measure is timing: if you’re 35 or younger and been having unprotected sex for a year without conception, or if you’re older than 35 and have been having unprotected sex for six months without conception. People who have experienced irregular menstrual cycles in the past, who have pelvic disorders, or who have experienced multiple pregnancy losses should also consider making an appointment. It’s important to note that you do not need a referral to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist.
How do you find a fertility specialist?
Whether you want to visit a fertility specialist in person or explore a telehealth option, it’s easy to discover board-certified doctors that take your insurance. Use this Fertility Out Loud reproductive endocrinologist finder tool to view different clinics in your area, or get started from the comfort of your home by requesting an initial virtual consultation with Fertility House Calls.
Prepare yourself for the journey ahead by signing up for resources, support, and guidance sent to your inbox from Fertility Out Loud.