During your fertility journey, you may wonder when the time is right to seek professional help. If you and your partner have tried to conceive for months without success, you may consider seeing a fertility specialist. Seeking professional help doesn’t mean you’ve failed or you won’t be able to conceive. It ensures you have all the right information for your fertility journey. Often, it’s just getting help to understand if you’re missing anything from your journey or may just need to make up for any vitamin deficiencies (hello, Iron).
Fertility struggles and the decision to seek professional help can be difficult for you to identify. It may uncover that you or your partner have underlying conditions contributing to fertility issues.
How does a fertility specialist help? They often recommend information (or treatments) you and your partner need to support your journey. A fertility specialist will begin their diagnosis and treatment with an initial examination and consultation for both partners.
What is infertility? Infertility is the inability to conceive after a year or longer of unprotected sex. Some cases could be caused by problems with ovulation, while identifiable causes would need to be evaluated and determined by an infertility specialist. They take the guesswork out of fertility.
Finding the reasons why you have trouble conceiving can bring peace of mind and also help ensure you’re getting all the right vitamins and nutrients you need in your journey to start a family.
Let’s talk about some common reasons couples seek a fertility specialist.
You have an unknown reproductive issue.
You know your body better than anyone else. You feel it, and you’ve probably done enough research on fertility to have your Ph.D. A fertility specialist will be able to identify the unknown, the underlying, and the things you just may not be able to recognize.
Some common conditions that can lead to infertility include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility and is a hormonal disorder that impacts a woman’s ability to ovulate regularly. Without regular ovulation, it can be challenging for you to conceive.
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI): A woman diagnosed with POI has a five percent chance of conceiving. Don’t lose hope! Even with the low likelihood of natural conception – egg donation with IVF (in-vitro fertilization) can be an incredibly effective treatment for women with POI.
Uterine fibroids: Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the muscle of your uterus and are commonly found in a woman of reproductive age. Fibroids can interfere with your ability to get pregnant and lead to pregnancy loss – but take heart, women with fibroids can conceive and carry a pregnancy without difficulty.
Endometriosis: When the tissue that normally lines your uterus grows elsewhere, for example, in the ovaries, fallopian tube, and other pelvic spaces, endometriosis takes place. Your treatment may require surgery, but is individualized per patient.
You have a thyroid condition.
About one in eight women will develop a thyroid issue during their lifetime. Sixty percent of those women aren’t even aware they are suffering from the condition. It’s essential to monitor your thyroid hormone levels before conceiving. A fertility specialist may be able to help increase your chances of getting pregnant by observing your thyroid hormone and suggesting treatments.
You’ve had multiple miscarriages.
Having a miscarriage is a challenging experience to have for all women. For fifteen to twenty percent of all pregnancies, they will, unfortunately, end in miscarriages. Remember, miscarriages do not reflect your infertility.
If you experience more than two miscarriages, you may want to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist to identify any underlying causes. Many factors could cause miscarriages, such as genetic issues, anatomic problems, altered hormone levels, cervical issues, or infection.
You’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer treatments can affect your ability to get pregnant depending on your age, type of treatments, and dosages. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you can take protective measures to preserve your fertility.
Women can opt for gonadal shielding to preserve their eggs.
Gonadal shielding is a procedure used to keep a person fertile by preventing damage to reproductive organs during radiation therapy. During radiation therapy, you will have a protective shield placed outside your body to cover the area of the gonads (ovaries) and other parts of the reproductive system.
If you’ve already undergone cancer treatments, a fertility specialist would be able to evaluate if your fertility was impacted.
You’ve been trying for over a year.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without success, you should consider getting an evaluation. A fertility specialist can help determine why you’re having difficulty and offer possible treatment options. If you’re over 35 years old, consult after six months instead of a year.You should also see a fertility specialist if you can answer yes to any of the following:
- Either you or your partner has a history of STDs
- You have irregular or no menstruation
- You have a history of pelvis infections or previous abdominal surgeries
- You have severe pain during menstruation
- Your partner has a history of sexual problems, including difficulty with erections and/or ejaculation
- Your partner has an abnormal semen analysis
How do you choose the right fertility specialist?
Your OB-GYN can help identify fertility issues in women but the most qualified specialist to address infertility is a fellowship-trained physician and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist.
Some questions you may want to ask during your consultation are:
- What procedures do you offer?
- Are there any age limits for treatment?
- How long has your practice been in existence?
- How much does treatment cost, and what will insurance cover?
- What is your philosophy and treatment for patients?
Determining if you’re ready to see a fertility specialist is up to you. If you’re concerned about seeing a fertility specialist define your journey, understand that seeking professional opinions is why they’re available.