So you just got the news that you should meet with a infertility specialist. Maybe you received some inconclusive results from testing, or maybe they were conclusive tests. Maybe you are reading this because you have a family member that just found out they should see a fertility doctor and you want to understand the process and be a source of support. Maybe you just have a gut feeling like I did that you would have trouble conceiving. Or maybe none of the above, but here you are reading this, I hope you find this helpful and informative.
Choosing a Fertility Doctor:
How to find a fertility doctor? There are a lot of variables that will go into this and it will be an emotional time as you will most likely be nervous about the process. And you may also be excited that someone may finally have answers for you and your partner. There will be a range of emotions. The best person to recommend a doctor is your obgyn. However you may have to factor in the proximity of the fertility doctors office to your home and work. You may also want to lean on some of your friends that have battled with infertility for recommendations. Either way this is the starting point, researching and meeting with infertility doctors. You want to feel comfortable and confident in this choice, you will hopefully not spend a lot of time there in the long-term. However in the short-term there will be a lot of testing that takes place so you will be there quite a bit.
Preparation for your first visit: (The visit will most likely take 1.5 hours)
*Write down all of your questions- I am sure that there are so many questions lingering in your head, keep a list so that you can ask them during your first visit. This will start to help you understand this whole new world.
*Bring a notebook- You will be given a lot of information and it may be hard to register that day and you may forget some of it. It will be good to have your notes to refer back to later.
Questions to discuss during the visit:
1). What tests will I need? What are these tests testing? This will help you mentally prepare for this. I was petrified of needles, completely petrified. This was a lot for me to wrap my head around. The good news is I survived! It may be helpful to have the doctor explain what each test is for so you feel educated throughout the process. This is some of the testing you may undergo as a couple:
*Semen Analysis-This is the primary test for men. It is the collection and prompt evaluation of a sample of semen which can help determine if there are any defects in the number, shape and movement (motility) of sperm. Blood tests can be used to evaluate hormone levels.
*FSH-(Follicle Stimulating Hormone)- blood test, this is what triggers your ovaries to prepare an egg for release each month
*Hysterosalpingogram-(HSG). Also called a tubogram which is a series of X-rays of your fallopian tubes and uterus. The X-rays are taken after your doctor injects liquid dye. Another method uses saline and air instead of dye an ultrasound.
*Transvaginal ultrasound-A doctor places an ultrasound "wand" into the vagina and brings it close to the pelvic organs. Through the use of sound waves, the doctor will be able to see images of the ovaries and uterus
*Hysteroscopy- your doctor will put a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end through the cervix and into the uterus. The doctor will be able to see problems and will take tissue samples if needed.
2).Will My Insurance Cover Intrauterine Insemination, In Vitro Fertilization, Egg Donor?
I hope so, unfortunately mine was not covered, but my husband and I were able to figure it out. There are several options if your insurance does not cover IUI/IVF/Egg Donor procedures. I was able to participate in a study where all of the medicine needed was provided which saved us roughly $5,000. If you aren't covered a lot of the initial bloodwork and screening may be covered by your insurance, be sure to look into this as well. A lot of Reproductive Specialists offices also offer payment plans. Another good thing to know is that when patients are done with their IUI and IVF cycles they will donate back their unused medicine. This may be an available option to you. Many states are Mandated to cover infertility even if it is not covered in your insurance policy, See Below:
3.) What would you suggest is the best starting point in our situation?
Based on your test results the doctor will recommend a starting point and run through the statistics of success rates and what will be best options for you and your partner.
4). What are the success rates for your office for IUI, IVF, Egg Donor?
It is good to know what the success rates are for the reproductive offices you visit. As you are analyzing a lot of things at this time, this is another good one to factor in. You are spending a lot of time, money and emotion while going through this process. You want to make sure this particular/doctor and office is the best fit. Even down to the people working at the front desk and the nurses. The experience is tough in itself, the people surrounding you when you are there should be warm, positive and friendly.
You have just been given a lot of information, digest it all and slowly come up with a plan. You are one step closer to having answers based on the information you were given during your visit to make the best decisions possible.
6.) Find A Support Group-
I highly recommend finding a support group such as Resolve to help you through this time. You are not alone, even though it may feel incredibly isolating and unfair. There are so many people going through the same thing right now. Leaning on each other, will make this emotional time a little less painful and a bit more hopeful.