When you make the decision to get pregnant, you start out with fertility hopes and trying to conceive goals. Even though statistics show that only one third of healthy couples conceive in the first month of trying, many of us imagine we’ll get pregnant right away or within the first few months. So, when it does not happen as quickly as we had hoped, it’s understandable to get concerned.
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, if you’re a woman and under the age of 35 years old, it’s recommended you try to conceive for a year before seeing a doctor. If you’re over 35 years old, you should see a doctor if you’ve been trying to conceive for over six months.
However, if there are medical concerns, or you suspect you have an infertility issue that may impact the fertility hopes, there is no harm in making an appointment sooner rather than later. Below, we’ll review the best doctor to assist you, the process of a fertility assessment, and different options that can help you conceive.
Fertility Hopes: What Kind of Doctor Should You See?
While you have the option to see a Primary Care Physician for your overall health (which can impact your ability to get pregnant), or an OB/GYN, which stands for an obstetrician-gynecologist and specializes in a woman’s overall reproductive health, when it comes to fertility hopes and trying to conceive, you should see a doctor known as a Reproductive Endocrinologist.
A reproductive endocrinologist specializes in the field of fertility and has received a board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. They have knowledge in both male and female reproductive organs, what issues to look out for, how to treat such issues, and the latest fertility technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A, formerly known as PGS), preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic disease (PGT-M, formerly known as PGD), or reproductive surgery. This is the type of doctor you would want to see, should you have concerns about trying to conceive.
How A Doctor Can Diagnose What May Be Impacting Your Fertility Hopes
At an initial consultation, you will go through your health history with the Reproductive Endocrinologist (if you have any outstanding health concerns, if you smoke, etc.), review your trying to conceive history and share your fertility hopes.
For women, a transvaginal sonogram will most likely be performed to evaluate the visual appearance of your uterus and ovaries. This looks for ovarian cysts, uterine anatomy and provides information on your follicle count. In addition, they will perform blood work to look at various hormones such as your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol and anti-müllerian hormone (AMH). Your AMH will provide insight into the number of follicles you have in your ovaries (every follicle has an egg inside). These hormone levels will give the doctor an idea of how many eggs you have and a general idea of your reproductive health and ovulatory function.
A woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early 30s. This is because a woman is born with approximately two million eggs. By their mid-twenties, women may only have 300,000 eggs. Then, around 35, the quality as well as the quantity begin to decline. As per the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, women under 30 have about a 25% chance of getting pregnant with each menstrual cycle when they are having regular unprotected intercourse. With the decline speeding up after 35, being proactive about their fertility hopes in general may be a wise investment.
What Options You Have to Achieve Your Fertility Hopes
After these tests are run, your Reproductive Endocrinologist will review the results and offer options you can pursue to achieve your fertility hopes. Sometimes, it’s may be just a matter of a proper diagnosis and making lifestyle adjustments that can help you on your path to parenthood. In other cases, you may need assisted reproductive technology such as either Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), which we mentioned earlier. What’s also good to know is when it comes to reproductive technology, it’s always evolving, and doctors, clinicians and scientists are working hard to develop new tests, protocols and strategies to help. One example is the ERA test, which can help evaluate the ideal timing for embryo implantation and the best day to transfer your embryo should you pursue IVF.
Overall, while fertility treatment may seem overwhelming, please feel free to ask your doctor questions, express your concerns and see if there may be an option or recommendation they have that could help turn your fertility hopes into a reality!