Are you nervous, embarrassed or just plain curious? Knowing what to expect when you visit your doctor to talk about problems getting pregnant can help you prepare and put you at ease. This is why I have put together the following guide. It explains how long you should wait until you see your doctor, why going as a couple is important, what questions your doctor will ask you, and what the likely next steps will be.
When Should I See My Doctor for Help Conceiving?
Most doctors are happy to discuss any concerns that you may have about getting pregnant at any stage. In fact, if you have a medical condition, you may benefit from seeing your doctor before you even start trying for a baby, especially if you are taking regular medication.
However, doctors are unlikely to send you for fertility tests until you have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year. This is because only 4 out of 5 healthy couples get pregnant in the first year of trying. So, it would be a waste of money and cause unnecessary stress to send a couple for tests if they had been trying for less than a year. Though this is not always true.
There are times when a doctor may send couples for tests before a year has past. This can be when the woman is over the age of 35 or if one of the couple has symptoms that indicate they may have a fertility problem.
For a full explanation of the timescales and criteria doctors use when they make the decision to send couples for fertility tests, check out the section: When to Seek Fertility Help
Go as a Couple to See Your Doctor
A problem conceiving can be with either the man or the woman. So, unless you have a good reason not to go as a couple, it is best to visit your doctor with your partner. The doctor will want to ask you both questions and being there together makes it easier to answer them. Not to mention it is also nice to have your partner there to support you during the talk.
If you and your partner have different doctors, then you will need to see both doctors. This is because any investigations that are needed have to be arranged by the individual’s doctor. However, you can both go along to each other’s appointment and I recommend you do this.
If you have different doctors and you need to be referred to a fertility clinic, this is usually done by the woman’s doctor (unless an identifiable cause for the fertility problem has been found in the man). If possible, get a copy of the investigation results for the man so that the doctor can include these in the referral.
What Questions Could Your Doctor Ask You?
When you see your doctor about problems getting pregnant, they will ask you questions of a personal nature that some people find embarrassing. Your doctor is not doing this to make you feel uncomfortable, but to try and find the cause of any problems you may be having.
These questions are along the lines of how long you have been trying to get pregnant, how often you have sex, if you have any problems with sex, if you have had any other kids, if you drink, take drugs, smoke, etc. If you would like to see a full list of the types of questions your doctor will ask you, check out the section: Questions Doctors Ask for Assessing Fertility
Important: it is always best to be honest when you answer your doctor, as this will make finding any problem easier and may save you from greater embarrassment later on.
What Can I Expect from My Doctor?
If a specific issue has arisen during the consultation, then your doctor will give advice to improve your chances of getting pregnant. However, if nothing is immediately obvious or they want confirmation on something discussed, your doctor may refer you for fertility tests.
What Tests Can Men Expect
Your doctor will normally refer the man for a semen analysis test. This will identify if the sperm are abnormal or if there are no sperm at all. Depending on the results of this, further tests may be required to identify what the cause of the problem is.
What Tests Women Can Expect
For the woman, they may arrange for a blood test to be taken. This test looks at your progesterone level to determine whether or not you have ovulated during that cycle. Other blood tests may also be requested depending upon your medical history and whether or not your cycle is regular.
If your doctor thinks you may have a physical problem, they may arrange for a pelvic ultrasound to look at the structure of the uterus and ovaries to check for problems.
Depending on whether anything is found or not, you may be sent for further fertility tests. You can check all of these out in the section: Essential Fertility Tests
Procedures May Differ by Location
How and when fertility tests are done can vary slightly depending upon where you are living. This is due to different shared care arrangements with the fertility clinics and pathology laboratories. For example: in some areas doctors’ will arrange all of the preliminary tests and scans, whereas elsewhere you may only need a blood test before referral to a fertility clinic.
Once your doctor has received all the tests back, you may need to go to a fertility clinic for treatment. Some countries allow you to go to this for free under their national health scheme, while in others you must pay to go private. You doctor can assist you by letting you know about all the options available to you in your area.
If you need to have fertility treatment privately, then I recommend you check out the section: A Beginner’s Guide to Private Fertility Treatment. This is a step by step guide on what you should do, how to choose a fertility clinic, how to find the best treatment for you, and how not to get ripped off.