When to See a Fertility Physician
When you’re trying to grow your family, the idea of seeking care with a fertility specialist can feel overwhelming. You might not be sure what treatment you need or even have a full picture of what your options are, so where do you start your fertility journey?
The good news is, if you’re having trouble conceiving, you have a variety of options that can help you get pregnant and achieve your dream of growing your family. Some of which you can even begin to pursue with your current OB/GYN or Primary Care Physician (PCP).
So what can you do with your current medical provider and how do you know when it’s time to reach out to a fertility clinic? Let’s walk through it.
Starting Your Fertility Journey
Sometimes it can feel more comfortable to start your journey with a physician you already know and trust. There are several ways you can boost your potential to conceive with the help of your OB/GYN or PCP. The first step in determining what’s next in your family-building journey is to start with a basic infertility assessment. When done with your OB/GYN or PCP, this can include:
- Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) testing can help give a better understanding of one’s ovarian reserve. If results are abnormal, this could mean there may be a low quantity of eggs or poor quality eggs in the ovaries.
- Thyroid and prolactin screening can show if there are elevated or insufficient hormone levels, which could point to problems with ovulation.
- Semen analysis can help determine if there are any abnormalities with the sperm, making it harder for the sperm to meet and fertilize an egg.
There are many cases in which the basic fertility assessment can indicate that simple, less-invasive treatments could be what you need to help with conception. Depending on your fertility assessment, you may be able to pursue some fertility treatment options with your OB/GYN or PCP, such as ovulation induction paired with timed intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Unfortunately, these treatment options aren’t always the right fit for individuals and couples looking to build their families. Everyone’s journey is unique, and if the right treatment isn’t available, or you haven’t been able to get pregnant with these treatments, it might be time to connect with a fertility specialist. A fertility physician can work with you on considering additional options like medicated IUIs or when it might be time to consider starting in vitro fertilization (IVF).
But how do you know when is it time to say “hello” to a fertility clinic or infertility specialist?
Partnering with a Fertility Clinic
Several triggers might suggest it’s time to seek the help of a fertility clinic in order to take advantage of their advanced technology and expertise. Some indicators that it’s time to connect with the experts can include:
- Abnormal semen analysis
- Fallopian tube damage or obstruction
- Diminished ovarian reserve (low egg supply) or advanced ovarian age (>38 years old)
- Unresponsive to ovulation medication
- And more…
Some individuals and couples benefit from seeking the care of a fertility specialist early on, as they have the technology and expertise to perform more comprehensive fertility testing than many OB/GYN’s or PCP’s can perform. When you partner with a fertility clinic you’ll complete a basic fertility assessment and potentially some additional testing.
(If you have completed testing with your primary provider, be sure to share those records with your fertility specialist. This can save time and money by not having to repeat fertility testing that’s already been completed!)
Further testing at a fertility clinic can include:
- Antral Follicle Count, where your fertility specialist will take a closer look at the number of egg-containing follicles developing in your ovaries through a transvaginal ultrasound
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to evaluate the shape of the uterine cavity and the patency/structure of the fallopian tubes to check for any potential blockage that might be preventing sperm and eggs from meeting.
Once we have a more in-depth, comprehensive picture of your overall fertility health, you and your physician can determine the treatment options that will give you the best chances of getting pregnant. These can range from optimizing natural fertility to family building through surrogacy and egg donation.
When it comes to fertility treatment, timing is critical and you may even be able to optimize your chances of success further using less invasive treatments, such as IUI, by partnering with a fertility clinic. Fertility clinics have the routine hours and flexibility to ensure your treatments are performed at the optimal time, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
Growing Your Family Through Fertility Treatment
Once you and your physician decide on a treatment plan together, you’ll begin your unique journey with your care team supporting you every step of the way.
Everyone’s journey to parenthood looks a little different and there are a variety of options for growing families, such as:
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
- IVF Lite
- Donor Egg
- And more…
Your fertility physician and coordinating care team will work with you to plan the best path forward for you and provide personalized care along the way.
And if you don’t find success with your first treatment, don’t be discouraged. It often can take more than one try to achieve a pregnancy and every step of the way we learn more about how to optimize your fertility treatments to help you get there. Your care team has your success in mind and will work with you to determine the best care plan to help you realize your dream of growing your family.
Returning to Your Primary Care Provider
It’s an exciting day when you finally see a “positive” on a pregnancy test and after that, you’ll stay with your fertility clinic for roughly the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Your fertility doctor will monitor the pregnancy closely during this time to ensure the pregnancy is developing normally. Routine tests for growing levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), the pregnancy hormone, and early ultrasound monitoring allow your fertility clinic to identify concerning issues as early as possible.
After 10 weeks, we’ll schedule your graduating ultrasound appointment. If there’s a strong heartbeat and we know the pregnancy is developing appropriately, you’ll return to your OB/GYN or PCP for the remainder of your pregnancy care.
Saying “goodbye” can be a sad day but our team is elated that we’ve been able to have a part in helping you on your journey to becoming a parent. We know you’re in good hands with your primary physician and we are rooting for you every step of the way. And a few months later, our favorite part comes when we get to hear about and receive photos of the little ones you brought into the world.
If you’re looking to begin your family-building journey, connect with our team to learn more about your options for your growing family at ORM Fertility.
ORM Fertility hosts regular webinars to help intended parents understand their reproductive treatment options and empower them to make informed decisions about their journey to parenthood. Explore our webinars and register for an upcoming event on our website.