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16 Things to Do Before You Visit an Infertility Specialist
by Lisa Hurt Kozarovich
| Posted 2 years ago
Schedule an Appointment
OB-GYN or reproductive endocrinologist (RI)? "As long as your regular OB is moving along at a pace you're happy with and doing the appropriate tests, you can stay with her initially," says Dr. Carolyn Maud Doherty, a RI and co-author of The Fertility Handbook.
Know the Differences in Docs
"The difference in seeing an OB-GYN is that they usually do a very broad-stroke approach, but they aren't skilled in the nuances of infertility," says Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis, a RI in New Orleans. "...OB patients take priority while fertility takes a back seat."
Get Your Records
Make sure previous fertility tests and other tests are sent to the specialist. Try to take them ahead of time so your doc can review the results before your first visit. Have other medical problems? Grab those records too.
Research Your Family History
It's also a good idea to talk to relatives about a family history of infertility, Dr. Doherty explains. (Did your mother or mother-in-law have miscarriages
? Did your mother or sisters have a history of fibroids
? Does your brother-in-law have a history of infertility
Prepare for First Visit
During the first visit, women can typically expect to answer a health and family history questionnaire, discuss their monthly cycle, and have a physical exam, possibly with a pelvic ultrasound.
Know What to Expect
"That first visit is primarily an information-gathering session," Dr. Richard-Davis says. "Still, by the end of the visit, we come up with some kind of management plan—whether it's setting up tests or, if we know the reason for infertility, a plan for treatment."
Get Familiar with the Tests
Most couples can expect lots of tests during the process. Let's go over the tests the fertility specialist will probably recommend...
This is essentially an X-ray procedure in which dye is injected through the cervix
and into the uterus
and fallopian tubes
to check for abnormalities such as tumors, scar tissue, or blockage.
In this procedure, a narrow fiber optic telescope is inserted through the woman's abdomen to evaluate the ovaries
and look for signs of endometriosis
A quick in-office procedure where the doctor takes a small sample of the lining of the uterus to assess the quality of the woman's uterine lining and also determine whether she is ovulating.
Expect an Ultrasound
To help rule out hormonal problems, fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, and, in some cases, endometriosis, this should be performed on the day of the LH surge. A second ultrasound a few days later can confirm that an egg was actually released, ruling out LUF
Prepare for the Bloodwork
Prepare for Diagnosis
Depending on the diagnosis, either surgery or oral drugs are the first attempts to help the couple achieve pregnancy. If that doesn't work, more powerful, injectable fertility drugs are sometimes tried, followed by artificial insemination and finally
Know the Causes of Infertility
Dr. Richard-Davis says about 30 to 40 percent of the time infertility is caused by ovulation issues; 40 percent of the time it's due to sperm factors; 10 to 15 percent of cases it's is caused by tubal abnormalities; and 10 percent of the time there is no explanation.