Finding out that there may be a reason you haven’t conceived yet can be a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, if there’s an explanation for the delay, then it may make you feel like progress is being made, especially if it’s an issue that can be addressed through medical intervention. However, if it’s more complicated or disheartening, feelings of grief are entirely understandable. A diagnosis around egg quality, male factor infertility, or even unexplained infertility can all be intimidating. Still, what’s important to know is you’ve done nothing wrong, and you do have options you can investigate. Below, we’ll walk you through the next steps.
Make Sure the Right Doctor is Treating You
When it comes to finding the right doctor, this doesn’t just mean medically but one you feel comfortable with and confident in. There have been some stories of couples going through fertility care with their primary care physician or OB/GYN. Let’s go over the basics of these doctors and be the most effective in treating infertility.
As a woman, you regularly see an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN). An OB/GYN specializes in female reproductive health as well as both pregnancy and childbirth. They are who you would see for annual checkups, preventive screening (like pap smears), and for care during pregnancy.
As a man, if you have a concern specifically around reproductive issues or anything related to diagnosing or treating diseases associated with the urinary tract (either male or female).
While both your OB/GYN and urologist can provide insight into your reproductive health, once you decide you want to get pregnant and are concerned that there may be an issue – that is when to see a reproductive endocrinologist. A reproductive endocrinologist is a fertility specialist who has received a board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Now comes the part where you need to ask yourself a few questions as you look for an RE. This includes whether they accept your insurance? Do you want a clinic close to your home or where you work? Consider what times you will be going for monitoring and what you feel would work best for you and your partner in scheduling. Do you have a preference for being treated by a male or female?
Another aspect to consider is if you have a particular diagnosis like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, you may want to look at doctors who specialize in it.
What Are My Options
An RE will perform preliminary tests to look at your hormones and reproductive health. In women, they will look at your ovarian reserve and ovarian function. They will also perform an ultrasound to check your uterus and ovaries for any abnormalities. In men, they will perform a semen analysis, which reviews the sperm count, shape, and how well they swim.
Once an evaluation is complete, the reproductive endocrinologist will review the results with you and advise you on how to proceed. In some cases, if a specific medical diagnosis is uncovered, they may treat it first before trying any reproductive intervention. In other cases, depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may explore the following options with you:
Intrauterine insemination (IUI): This is when a catheter is used to “bypass” the cervix and insert sperm into a woman’s uterus. IUI can be done using the partner’s sperm or donor sperm.
In vitro fertilization (IVF): When IVF is performed, a woman’s eggs are retrieved, or donated eggs are used and combined with their partner or donor’s sperm. The embryos created would then be transferred to the woman or surrogate’s uterus. Click here to read some of the suggested questions you should ask about IVF.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): This is when a single sperm is injected directly into your egg, rather than placing many sperm next to the egg, as in IVF.
Donor egg or embryo: If you’re unable to conceive with your eggs or if you’re a same-sex male couple, you can have IVF treatment using eggs donated by a woman. The donor egg is combined with your partner’s sperm, and the resulting embryo is transferred to the intended mother or gestational surrogate’s uterus. This can also be done with a donated embryo or donated sperm.
Surrogacy (gestational carrier): Another woman carries your embryo or donor embryo to term and gives birth to your baby.
Please know millions of couples have built their families through the help of a fertility specialist. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting a proper diagnosis, a lifestyle change, or in other cases, medical assistance was required. Ultimately though, while no one necessarily dreams of a doctor’s help to have a family, there are many happy, healthy families right now that are grateful that this technology exists.
As always, GoStork aims to make your journey less stressful. Please explore the site, resources, and blogs to arm yourself with knowledge to start your journey!