What To Expect At A Fertility Clinic Appointment

If you're experiencing infertility, you're far from alone. One in five heterosexual women with no previous births are unable to get pregnant after trying for one year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and one in four have trouble carrying a pregnancy to term. Your doctor may recommend you see a fertility specialist, which might sound intimidating. However, with knowledge and preparation, there's no reason to stress just yet.

Infertility declines with age, so it's defined differently depending on how old you are (via CDC). For women under 35 years old, infertility is defined as being unable to conceive after trying for one year. For women over 35, doctors shorten this period of time to six months. Infertility can happen at any stage of pregnancy, from ovulation to fertilization to implantation. Some women who do become pregnant struggle to carry the pregnancy to term, known as impaired fecundity. Conditions that contribute to infertility can include disruption of ovarian function, fallopian tube obstruction, and issues with the uterus. Infertility is also an issue with men, resulting from hormonal disorders, genetic disorders, and testicular or ejaculatory function disruption. If your doctor diagnoses you or your partner with infertility, they may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist for medical intervention.

Seeing a fertility specialist

A reproductive endocrinologist is an OB-GYN who has also received three years of specialized training in infertility and treatment (via The Bump). The purpose of the initial appointment is to make sure you're ready for a healthy pregnancy, often taking blood samples, examining the uterus, testing ovarian reserve, or performing a semen analysis. Make sure you bring your and your partner's medical histories with you so the doctor has all the information they need. They'll also ask you a lot of questions, like how long you've been trying to conceive, if you track your ovulation, and if you consume drugs or alcohol. You can come with your own questions as well about differences in treatment options, side effects of medications, and how often you'll need appointments.

After your initial appointment, you'll likely have a follow-up appointment where your doctor will go over the results of your preliminary tests with you. Then, you can evaluate your treatment options, their likelihood of success, and what your health insurance will cover. Try not to stress too much — studies have shown that high levels of day-to-day stress can impact your chances of conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term (via WebMD). Go in as prepared as possible and be patient with your body.