Deciding whether to consult a fertility doctor can be difficult. When is it too early to be concerned? When is it time to seek help? The answer depends on your age and health history, among other things. Those most likely to benefit from fertility treatment include:
- Women over 35 who've tried to conceive for six months or more
- Women under 35 who've tried to conceive for one year or more
- Women who've had recurrent miscarriages
- Women with irregular cycles
- Women with a history of pelvic pain, infection or inflammatory disease
- Women who've been treated for endometriosis or tubal damage
- Men with a history of urinary infections
- Men with poor semen quality (low sperm count, low motility or poor morphology)
- Men and women born to mothers who took the synthetic hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) during their pregnancies
Just Starting Out? Maybe you're just starting to think about having a baby but you're concerned about health issues that might interfere with getting pregnant. Or maybe you've waited to start a family and now wonder whether your age could be a problem. If there are factors that could reduce your chance of conceiving naturally - or carrying a child to term safely - then you want to be proactive. Consult a fertility doctor even before you start trying to conceive. Consulting a fertility specialist early on also makes sense for singles or couples who already know they want to explore options such as surrogacy, egg/sperm donation, artificial insemination (AI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in the future. A reproductive endocrinologist (RE) is a fertility doctor who can evaluate your reproductive health, help you determine if you or your partner needs treatment and educate you about the options if you do. Fertility doctors can also offer advice about the things you can do to increase your chances of success.
Still Trying? Maybe you've been trying but things just aren't happening as quickly as you'd hoped. It could be there's no reason to worry yet. If you're in your 20s or early 30s and have been trying to conceive for less than a year, sometimes the best advice is just to relax and keep trying. However, if you're over 35 and have been trying for six months - or if you're under 35 and have been trying at least a year - then it may be time to get a fertility workup. Even if you have conceived naturally in the past, you could be failing to conceive again. Fertility can decline for a variety of reasons.
Ready for a Second Opinion? Maybe you've already had testing done but aren't quite comfortable with the recommended treatment. Or maybe you've undergone treatment before, without success. Do you want to be sure you've explored all the options? Then it might be a good idea to get a second opinion.
Take the Next Step When you've made a decision to seek fertility treatment, the next thing to consider is how to choose the doctor or clinic that's right for you.