When To See A Fertility Specialist
By Nancy Da Silva
You and your spouse have a dream. You want to start your family. Yet as more time goes by without you becoming pregnant, worry starts to set in. Maybe you’re only being impatient, you tell yourself. Not everybody gets pregnant right off the bat. Maybe you’re just one of those couples that take a bit longer to conceive than others. As a year goes by without conception, you begin to look at each other and wonder, is it you? Is it him? The horror of that word ‘infertility’ seems to loom larger with each passing period.
When is time to see a fertility specialist? Should you keep trying on your own or prepare yourself to face a barrage of tests and treatments that may not only stretch your finances but also put a strain on your relationship?
There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding when it’s time to see a fertility specialist. The general belief is if after one year, conception has not occurred, then it may be time to get help. But that doesn’t take into account your age, your partner’s age, your health, your the method of birth control you’ve been using up until the point you decided to try and get pregnant, family medical history etc.
According to the American Society For Reproductive Medicine, a woman over thirty-five who has been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for more than six months should make an appointment to see a fertility specialist. This is because as a woman ages and reaches the end of her child bearing years it become understandably more difficult for her to conceive, thus shortening the window for when she could conceive on her own versus when should seek help from a specialist.
If you or your spouse already have a pre-existing condition that may hamper conception, chances are it’s best to not even wait to see a fertility specialist. You’ll probably be referred to one as soon as you let your family doctor know of your wish to have a child. Something like chemotherapy could be toxic to your eggs or your spouse’s sperm.
If your doctor discovers any sort of problem in your fallopian tubes like blockages or scarring, he or she will probably refer you to a specialist who can then perform the necessary tests that will hopefully make other options available to you.
Chances are that one or more previous miscarriages or an ectopic pregnancy, where conception occurs in the fallopian tubes as opposed to the uterus will more than likely make it very difficult for you to become pregnant.
Endometriosis also causes infertility in over 40% of cases. It is the caused by diseased state of the endometrial layer of tissue that lines the uterus which spreads to the ovaries and abdomen and can happen at any age. Its symptoms usually include painful menstrual cycles or pain during sexual intercourse.
Your doctor can also check your spouse’s sperm count and sperm motility before deciding if you’d be best served by seeing a fertility specialist.
If you’ve been on the pill then a period of infertility is not uncommon once you cease taking the pill. This period could last from six months to a year in regular cases. You should wait at least two years after stopping your birth control before considering that you may have trouble conceiving. This is because if you’ve been taking the pill regularly for most of your reproductive years, you need to give it between six months to a year to be sure that all the hormones have cleared your system. Then if after a year of intercourse with no contraception, you still have not conceived, your doctor will probably suggest that you may have fertility issues and recommend a specialist.
Changes in your weight and diet could also affect your ability to conceive. If you’ve been overweight or underweight and are currently working towards getting to a healthy weight, you should wait until you have met and are maintaining a healthy lifestyle before even trying to conceive. This is because in both cases of under and overweight women, menstrual cycles could be interrupted, damaging egg production. Give your body time to readjust itself so that it’s working at peak condition when you try to get pregnant. But be aware that being both severely under or overweight can cause long term damage such as diabetes or heart disease that can affect fertility in both men and women even once you’ve returned to a healthy weight.
So once you’ve considered all these factors and decided which, if any, of them apply to you then you can then present this information to your doctor. He or she can then see if any of the impediments to your ability to conceive can be treated by him or if he’ll have to refer you to a fertility specialist
If you’re difficulty conceiving runs in the family, you can also check with family members and ask them to recommend a specialist they may have used or you could do some research and make a list of specialists in your area.
Whichever direction you decide to go, know that any problems you may have that could lead to infertility does not have to spell the end of your dream to have a family. There are many options available to you and many treatments available for any fertility problems that you may encounter.
This is definitely a time where knowledge is power. The more you know about what could be causing your difficulty in getting pregnant, the better armed you will then be to fight the battle that will hopefully finally make your dream a reality.