“When should I see a fertility doctor?”

This is a question I am often asked by friends. But knowing when to see a fertility doctor can be complicated. Here are a few guidelines that may be helpful.

All fertility doctors are specialized OB/GYNs that have done extra training in fertility. Most general OB/GYNs can start your fertility evaluation and some even provide basic fertility treatments, but many people prefer to do all of the evaluation and treatment with a fertility specialist.

The general rule is that if you are 34 years old or younger, you should try for a year before being evaluated.  If you are 35 or older, then egg quality becomes an issue, and you should seek evaluation after six months of trying.

If you’re curious about your fertility potential, you and your partner can undergo basic fertility testing. We offer a Fertility Awareness Checkup for $90, which includes four tests and investigates the basics of fertility potential for a man and woman, which are mainly checking to see if there are normal amounts of eggs and sperm. Should treatment be necessary, this fee is credited towards treatment.

But there are some patients who should go directly to a fertility specialist before trying to get pregnant on their own. If any of the below 10 items apply to you, it would be best to make an appointment with a fertility specialist.

1.     You don’t get a monthly period.  If you aren’t having a regular cycle, you are probably not ovulating (releasing an egg).

2.     You have had surgery on your tubes or ovaries. It may be possible that the tubes aren’t open or that your ovaries don’t have many eggs left.

3.     You are in a same-sex relationship. In order to have a baby, you will need help getting sperm or eggs.

4.     You have had your uterus removed. To have a baby, you will need a gestational carrier.

5.     You are a carrier for a genetic condition that you don’t want to pass down. We can test embryos for the genetic condition and select the healthiest embryos for treatment, or you can use donor sperm or eggs.

6.     You have had more than one miscarriage. To prevent another pregnancy loss, we can investigate the potential cause of miscarriage.

7.     Your partner has had testicular surgery or sexual dysfunction is present. If your male partner has had testicular surgery or has difficulty with erection or ejaculation, he may have abnormal sperm.

8.     Your partner is undergoing testosterone treatment. If your male partner is on testosterone boosters, supplements or shots, this can often stop sperm production.

9.     Sterilization is present. If you or your partner has ever been sterilized through tubal ligation or vasectomy, fertility assistance will be necessary to achieve pregnancy.

10.  You have a fibroid diagnosis. If you have been told you have fibroids, you should check to make sure they are not inside the uterine cavity where the pregnancy will develop.

Getting an evaluation and seeing a fertility specialist can feel intimidating, scary, and difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to find a fertility clinic and doctor that you are comfortable with.

For those looking to have a child, there is so much that a fertility evaluation and treatment can do to help. Thousands of couples have fulfilled their dream of family through fertility treatment. Best wishes to you on your journey.

Author Bio:

Dr. Allison K. Rodgers is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and has been practicing medicine since 2004. She completed her residency at Case Western Reserve-Metrohealth Medical Center/Cleveland Clinic, followed by fellowship at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Rodgers’ personal experiences with both secondary infertility and pregnancy loss have given her a unique insight into reproductive medicine, and she is well known for her compassionate and individualized patient care. She has published many original research articles in top medical journals on topics such as endometriosis, tubal factor infertility, in vitro fertilization, and donor sperm. Her special interests include in vitro fertilization, male infertility, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, unexplained infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and premature ovarian insufficiency.