One of the most important and saddest moments of my life was making an appointment with a fertility doctor. My husband and I were both almost 40 years old. We’d been trying to get pregnant for over a year. We’d read enough pregnancy books and visited enough infertility websites to recognize the signs of fertility problems.
Booking the appointment at the fertility clinic seemed like a sign of defeat because we really wanted to get pregnant naturally. Seeing a fertility doctor was sad and difficult because it felt like we were admitting that we needed help doing something that every other couple seemed to do happily and easily – and sometimes even by accident!
But, even though it wasn’t easy to admit we needed help getting pregnant, I actually wish we had made the appointment sooner. The doctor tested both my husband and me; we discovered we were dealing with a major fertility problem. My husband has azoospermia. He doesn’t produce sperm – which meant that no matter how many different foods for healthy sperm he ate, we wouldn’t be getting pregnant naturally.
This is why it’s so important to recognize the signs it’s time to see a fertility specialist: you might discover something important about you or your husband’s heath. This knowledge may be disappointing or even devastating at first – especially if you discover fertility problems such as azoospermia or endometriosis. But the sooner you realize what the problem is, the quicker you can start moving forward.
How long do you try to get pregnant before booking an appointment with a fertility specialist? It depends on your age, health issues, past experience with conception and pregnancy, and family history of fertility. Problems are sometimes carried through the generations.
Now, looking back, I wish I would’ve paid attention to the signs it was time to see a fertility doctor. It would’ve saved us a lot of time, energy, and money.
5 Signs You Should See a Fertility Doctor
A fertility doctor has more specialized knowledge, skills and experience than a family doctor, gynecologist, or natural health practitioner. So, avoid spending too much time and money on medical health tests unless your gynecologist or health practitioner is a fertility specialist.
“Unless your ob-gyn specializes in infertility, works closely with a urologist specializing in infertility, and has established that your diagnosis is straightforward and treatment is not complex, you run the risk of spending money on incomplete or inappropriate diagnostic tests and treatment,” writes Constance Shapiro in When You’re Not Expecting: An Infertility Survival Guide. “These fertility tests may deplete your finances before you are even referred to a fertility doctor – who may require that both of you repeat the very same tests.”
You should see a fertility doctor if…
1. You’ve been trying to get pregnant at least one year – no matter how old you are
I was 37 and my husband was 41 when we first started trying to conceive. We assumed it was “just” age that was making it take a long time to get pregnant. We had no idea we were dealing with fertility problems that would make a natural pregnancy impossible! If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for 12 months, go see a fertility doctor. An even strong sign is if you’re over 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months. The older we get, the more fertility problems we potentially face.
If you have no idea what type of fertility problems you might be facing, read Find Out Why You Can’t Get Pregnant – 4 Fertility Checklists.
2. You or your husband have chronic or past health problems
“Diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of cancer are examples of conditions that can affect sperm production and ovarian function,” writes Shapiro in When You’re Not Expecting: An Infertility Survival Guide. Remember that male fertility problems (low sperm count, azoospermia, lazy or slow sperm) are just as likely to occur as female fertility issues (eg, irregular periods, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis). Chronic or past health problems are signs you both should make an appointment with a fertility doctor.
3. You’ve been seeing a family doctor or gynecologist for six months
How long have you been trying to conceive? The longer you’ve been trying, the more likely you’re dealing with some sort of fertility problem or health issue. If you haven’t been able to get pregnant for over six months – especially if your family doctor or gynecologist hasn’t done an infertility evaluation or fertility tests – then you should see a fertility doctor.
4. You have problems with your period
Do you have pelvic pain, heavy periods, and/or bowel or bladder symptoms when you’re beginning or ending your menstrual cycle? If you have problems with your period, talk to your doctor about having a health test such as a hysterosalpingogram or laparoscopy. Your periods may be linked to fertility problems; this is a sure sign it’s time to make an appointment with a specialist.
5. You want more control and information about your fertility
Fertility clinics are expensive, but they offer couples more options than family doctors and gynecologists. Private, specialized health care can reveal serious fertility problems and help you take good care of your body. Shapiro says, “You should see a fertility doctor if you want to have your diagnostic workup and treatment performed as efficiently as possible with staff who view ‘the couple’ as the patient, and are available 365 days a year.”
Paying attention to the signs it’s time to go to a fertility doctor might help you feel more in control of your journey towards getting pregnant. It may be scary and disappointing for you to even consider getting serious medical tests done at a clinic – and your husband may not be willing to see a fertility doctor – but it could be the most important thing you do at this point in your life.
A few last thoughts…
Are you reluctant to tell your gynecologist or family doctor that you’re going to a fertility clinic? In When You’re Not Expecting: An Infertility Survival Guide, Shapiro gives readers a script to follow. If you’re worried about telling your ob-gyn or doctor that you want to see a fertility doctor, you could use these words:
“Dr Smith, I want to thank you for your efforts to help me and my husband get pregnant. We’re concerned about our fertility problems, and have decided to seek treatment at the Local Infertility Clinic. You have been wonderful in your care and concern for me, but I’m getting older! I’m still not pregnant, and I want to look back on this time and know I did everything in my power to take care of my body and fertility issues. You have been an important person in this process, and I thank you. If I do get pregnant I’d love you to help us through the pregnancy and even deliver our baby.”
Read Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health – it’s Amazon’s most popular book on fertility problems and getting pregnant.
The author of this book – Toni Weschler – has a master’s degree in public health and is a nationally respected women’s health educator. She teaches women how to get pregnant, avoid pregnancy naturally and gain better control of their gynecological and sexual health. She specializes in the Fertility Awareness Method. This book will help you recognize possible fertility problems and decide if it’s time to see a specialist.
If you already know you need help dealing with fertility problems but you have no money for a doctor, read How Do You Get Pregnant When You Can’t Afford Fertility Treatments?