When should I see a fertility specialist?

Many Minnesota couples or individuals who have tried to have a baby for an extended period may wonder when they should see a fertility doctor and seek treatment. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has the following recommendations:

  • If you’re under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least one year
  • If you’re 35 to 39, after six months of trying

Since fertility is often tied to age, the ASRM says those 40 or older may want to see a doctor sooner. Specialists also recommend that LGBTQ families begin the education process about fertility options six months to one year before starting treatment.

Other factors that can result in infertility

Besides age, other medical conditions can contribute to difficulties in conceiving children. Fertility specialists can discuss risks and options for women who:

  • Have had one or more miscarriages
  • Have irregular periods or no periods
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis or other conditions impacting fertility
  • Have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease

Once diagnosing any of these conditions, the doctor can help devise an appropriate treatment to increase pregnancy chances or discuss assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Four things to consider before seeing a fertility doctor

Education is power when it comes to uncertainties created by fertility issues. Before showing up for your first appointment, here are some things you should know:

Are you ovulating?

Your doctor will want to know whether you release an egg every month. This is something you can chart by yourself by tracking your basal body temperature. It’s also an inexpensive way to help you get pregnant.

Expect fertility tests

The doctor will examine your medical history and discuss the tests you and your partner (if you have one) will take. These include blood work, complete physicals and semen analysis. Other tests typically involve ultrasounds and X-rays of the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.

Drugs will likely have side effects

The doctor may prescribe fertility medications to increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally, or if you decide to pursue more complicated procedures, such as IVF. The doctor will explain the potential side effects and other possibilities, such as multiple births.

Treatment is usually expensive

One IVF cycle can run $12,000 to $15,000 in Minnesota, and more than one cycle may be necessary. Check your private insurance on whether it covers any part of the process or medications. You can also explore payment plans and grants that are sometimes available for prospective parents.

Don’t forget about the legal side of fertility techniques

Many people are surprised to learn that no uniform state or federal laws regulate assisted reproduction. Concerns over parental rights can develop over donations of eggs, sperm or embryos. That’s why it’s advisable to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer. Your attorney can help you minimize legal risks throughout all stages of the process so you can focus on your medical treatment and the joy of building your family.