Should I see an infertility specialist?
One of the most frequent questions we get from couples who are trying to conceive is: “When should I see my doctor”? and “When you should I make an appointment with an infertility specialist (Reproductive Endocrinologist)”?
Interactive tool: When to see the specialist
The first step is to go and see your general Ob-Gyn doctor as soon as you think about trying to get pregnant for a preconception visit and find out what you can do to improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
- If you are healthy, you have no medical issues, you have regular menstrual cycles, and he has no issues, then you should try to get pregnant for one year (6 months if you are 35 or over) before seeing a specialist
- You can improve your pregnancy chances by having sex regularly during the 5-6 fertile days
- Testing should be done for both partners (his sperm count should be first)
- Treatment depends on the cause of the fertility problems
- The first treatment for infertility is not always in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other options include pills, artificial insemination, or surgery
How quickly will I get pregnant?
Planning to get pregnant is not as easy as most people imagine, and your chances of getting pregnant depend on many different factors. On average, a couple having regular unprotected intercourse has only a 20-25% chance each month to get pregnant. On average it takes ½ of the couples more than 6 months to conceive.
Younger women and those with fewer problems have a higher chance of getting pregnant than older women and those with problems. Fertility decreases as you get older, specifically if you get over 35.
How is infertility diagnosed?
The traditional definition of infertility is usually made after unsuccessfully trying to conceive for more than one year. That doesn’t mean you can never get pregnant. Many couples who have been trying to get pregnant will successfully get pregnant after one year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should wait that long before seeing a specialist.
When time is of essence it’s important to not lose precious time, and there are certain instances where a couple should see an infertility specialist (Reproductive Endocrinologist) earlier than those 12 months.
When should couples see an infertility specialist?
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has defined infertility as..." the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse". They suggest that …. “couples in whom the female partner is under the age of 35, and who have not conceived after one year of unprotected intercourse, should seek the help of a physician that specializes in the treatment of infertility”.
ASRM also lists conditions where couples should see an infertility specialist even earlier:
—Couples, in which the female partner is over the age of 35, should seek help after six months of being unable to conceive.
—Couples should seek help from a specialist even sooner if they have known causes of infertility, such as:
- irregular periods
- prior abortion
- DES mothers
- prior cancer treatment or about to receive chemotherapy
If any of these apply to you, make an appointment with an infertility specialist and get checked out. (Or take the interactive "RE Test" to find out more.)
And while you wait to see the doctor, take the Periconception Interview to see how you can further improve your chances of having a healthy baby.