The knowledge that 90 percent of all couples who try to get pregnant will conceive naturally can be comforting. But what if you are in the other 10 percent?
When should you see a doctor about fertility problems?
"Infertility" is a broad term. Anyone who has been trying to conceive malignantly for 12 months or longer can get this label. If you happen to be over 35, medical professionals now encourage you to seek help after six months of trying to get pregnant. That is because time matters to you even with artificial reproductive techniques and you are going to want the best chance of success. Men and women who have certain "warning signs" that may point to infertility can see a doctor even earlier than these respective 12 and six month marks, and sometimes even before they start trying to conceive.
Good examples are irregular menstrual cycles (shorter than 24 days or longer than 35 days), luteal phases of less than 10 days, very heavy menstrual bleeding or pain, the complete absence of periods, and bleeding in between periods. Women who have already been diagnosed with a condition that is known to impact fertility may also seek help. These conditions include endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), as well as a history of sexually transmitted diseases or a family history of premature menopause.
Which kind of doctor?
Procedures for seeking medical treatment for (suspected) infertility vary widely from country to country, and it can be hard to know which kind of doctor to seek a consultation with. In some places, you may need to see a family doctor or general practitioner before you can see a specialist. This doctor will discuss your symptoms or concerns with you, after which you can get a referral. People who are not faced with this initial "barrier" are often best off either seeing a good general gynecologist, or going straight to a fertility specialist.
These doctors are known as reproductive endocrinologists. If you choose to see a gynecologist first, ask about their experience and question at what point you may need to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Always remember that it's perfectly fine to shop around for doctors or to seek second opinions. Are you starting with a reproductive endocrinologist? In that case, you will probably want to know what kind of success rates they have with various infertility treatments before you decide to stick with them. Privately paying patients will definitely want to see a reproductive endocrinologist right away in certain cases. Are you over 35, know you have blocked fallopian tubes, suffer from endometriosis or PCOS, or had an ectopic pregnancy in the past?
AM infertility specialist is the way to go. Couples who had an infertility consultation and were found to be dealing with a very low sperm count or abnormal hormone test results should also see an infertility specialist. What will medical care for infertility cost you? This varies widely. Some people will be covered by social healthcare programs, while others will need to pay out of pocket. Those who pay out of pocket have the advantage that they have more choice, and can shop around for the clinic with the best success rates (and a reasonable cost). Once you know what type of treatment you are looking at, this will be easier. Remember to look at the success rates for people in your exact situation. An overall high success rate for IVF won't matter much if the clinic's over 40 success rate is very low compared to other clinics if you are over 40 yourself, for example. While time may matter a lot, shopping around for the right doctor for you will increase your chances of getting pregnant.