When to See a Fertility Doctor
When you first make the decision to start trying, you are ecstatic and seemingly only a short time away from being pregnant. However, after a few months pass by with no luck, you may start worrying about potential fertility issues. How long should you continue trying before seeing a doctor? Am I infertile? Is he? This post will help you decide when to see a fertility doctor.
FIRST: Don’t Freak Out
If you’ve been trying for a few months and you’re still not pregnant, don’t scare yourself into thinking that something may be wrong. Getting pregnant can actually be a lot harder than it seems—which is why they call it the miracle of birth.
Consider this: Even if you have sex every day during your fertility window, you have, at most, a 37% chance of getting pregnant. If you begin to see that you actually have more chances of not getting pregnant, you will start to feel more normal and calmed by the fact that many couples need to try for months.
What Age Should I See a Fertility Doctor?
How many months trying without pregnancy is normal? Well, it depends on your age. The truth is that while many people don’t care about your age, fertility does. Your chances of getting pregnant increase and decrease at certain ages.
When a female is born, she already has her eggs for a lifetime. Those eggs stick with her as she ages. Just as your body shows signs of aging, so does your eggs.
The average woman’s fertility peaks around the age of 24. This means if you’re around this age and trying to conceive, it should be a lot easier and quicker. At around age 32, your chances of conceiving start decreasing. As a general rule, it will become much more complicated to become pregnant when you’re age 35 and above. At age 40, you may begin experiencing perimenopause symptoms and your chances of conceiving drop to a low 5%.
General Rules: When to See a Fertility Doctor
The decision to see a fertility doctor is ultimately up to you. However, general suggestions take into consideration your age and the length of time you’ve been trying.
Under age 35: If you’re under age 35 and have had frequent unprotected sex (in your fertility window) for a year with no success, you should consult a fertility doctor.
Age 35 and above: If you’re above age 35 and have had frequent unprotected sex (in your fertility window) for six months with no success, you should consult a fertility doctor.
You should also consider consulting a fertility doctor if you have known medical issues that may be affecting your chances.
Seek out a fertility doctor if you:
- Have irregular menstrual cycles
- Had cancer treatment
- Have painful periods
- Had several miscarriages
Your partner should seek out a fertility doctor if:
- He has testicular problems
- He experiences sexual dysfunction
- He’s had cancer treatment
- There are known fertility problems in his family
If none of these rules apply to you, you may simply need to try longer. There are certain tips and tricks you can try to get pregnant quicker. Check out some of our helpful guides below:
- 6 Ways to Strengthen His Sperm
- How to Find Your Fertility Window + Fertility Planning Guide
- 11 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
- Is Stress Affecting Your Chances of Conceiving?
If one or more of these rules apply and you suspect there is a fertility problem, read on.
How to Get a Fertility Doctor
Firstly, as soon as you suspect there might be a fertility issue, sit down with your partner. Explain your concern to him and that you think it may be helpful to see a fertility doctor.
Once you have this discussion, you can begin your hunt for a good fertility doctor. If you choose, you can see your family doctor and have him or her refer you to a doctor in your area. However, most fertility doctors do not require a referral. You can research different fertility clinics online to help you choose the best option.
Remember, this is your family and you want the best care possible, so it’s a good idea to check to see if the clinics you’ve narrowed down have reviews. You can do this by simply typing the clinic name into Google and adding the word “review.” If you know a specific doctor at that clinic, you can also search his or her name on www.ratemds.com.
Before making your first appointment, you should check to see if your insurance plan covers fertility appointments and treatments. In Canada, OHIP covers most visits, testing and some treatments (note: IVF and ICSI are not covered).
What to Expect Your First Fertility Clinic Visit
At the first visit, you and your partner will discuss your detailed medical history with your physician. He or she will also ask about your lifestyle such as your alcohol, cigarette and caffeine consumption. You will also be asked about your sexual habits and history and about other factors.
Since the problem may lie on either you or your partner’s side, he should be present as well. Single women who wish to get pregnant or women in same-sex relationships are also welcome at fertility clinics.
After reviewing your information, your doctor will decide which tests you and your partner should take. Tests could consist of a physical exam, pelvic ultrasound, blood tests and semen analysis. Your doctor may also recommend more complicated tests such as a hysterosalpingogram, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, postcoital test or endometrial biopsy. Results from more complicated tests could take a few days or a few weeks.
What Are the Fertility Treatment Options?
Fertility treatment options are different for everyone and are based on the results of your fertility tests.
From your results, your doctor will determine the reason for your infertility. Infertility causes could include:
- Ovulation problems
- Blocked tubes
- Cervical or uterine abnormalities
- Sperm problems
- Exposure to toxins (chemicals, alcohol, medications, etc.)
- Unexplained infertility
You or your partner’s treatment may be as simple as making a few lifestyle changes. For example, if you never fully understood fertility planning, your doctor may educate you and help you track your menstrual cycles and find your fertility window. He or she may also suggest that you and your partner take a specific fertility-friendly vitamin or make diet changes, exercise changes or habit changes.
Other treatment options include:
- Medications — Your doctor may recommend that either you or your partner take medications. Medications for him can improve sperm count, quality and production. If a female has an ovulation disorder, she will likely be prescribed a fertility drug. These drugs will help regulate your hormones and induce ovulation.
- Surgery — In some cases, a fertility doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment option for both men and women. For men, surgery may help sperm blockage. Women with uterine problems may need hysteroscopic surgery.
- Sperm retrieval — Men who can’t ejaculate or have a low sperm count may benefit from sperm retrieval. There are several methods to retrieve sperm.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) — When you undergo IVF, your eggs are first retrieved and then fertilized with sperm in a lab (this can be your partner’s sperm or donor sperm). After fertilization, the embryos are implanted in your uterus.
- Surrogacy — If a woman cannot carry a baby, she may choose another woman to have the baby for her. Similar to IVF, the couple’s embryo is placed inside the surrogate. The surrogate becomes pregnant and gives birth to the couple’s baby.
- Donor sperm, donor eggs or donor embryos
A fertility treatment’s success rate may also depend on age. For example, IVF success rates drop as the age of the mother increases. While the success rate is 38% for women age 35 to 37, that rate drops to 19% for women age 41 to 42. If your efforts to conceive have been unsuccessful for a lengthy time and you suspect fertility issues, the sooner you see a doctor, the better.
The success rate for all fertility treatments also depends on the severity of the problem.
Going through a treatment’s ups and downs can be stressful. Stress may affect your chances of conceiving or having a successful pregnancy, so make sure you have an outlet for your emotions during this time. Whether the problem lies on the woman or man’s side, or both, both partners should be supportive and understanding of each other. You may also find it comforting to confide in a friend or family member, or even consider therapy.
If you have fertility issues, it may help to know that you are not alone. About 6% of married women in the U.S. have fertility issues, according to the CDC. In addition, 7.5% of U.S. men have seen a fertility doctor.
Have you ever seen a fertility doctor? If so, feel free to comment your experience below. If this post helped you, share it with friends who are also struggling to conceive.