You did it. You made the appointment to see a fertility specialist. With that sense of relief, you also may feel a bit of stress as you embark on this new journey toward building your family.
What should you expect with that first visit? What questions should you ask the fertility doctor?
We got you. Below, we’ve shared some information that we hope guides you as you start your journey.
What to expect at your first visit with a fertility doctor
Your first visit with a fertility doctor may be virtual or may be in person, depending on your clinic. You can usually expect that visit to last 30-60 minutes in length. This first visit will be a time for the doctor to get to know you, and for you to get to know the fertility doctor and clinic.
You’ll be asked a lot of questions about your fertility journey up to now and your medical and family history. If you have a partner, your doctor will ask about their history as well. Expect to receive a ton of information as your physician gathers insights about you, your journey to this point and desired family size.
Once you and your physician have chatted, you’ll likely receive a transvaginal ultrasound, which allows your physician to look at your uterus and get a sense of your ovarian reserve by looking at your ovaries and counting the follicles they see. You may also begin to discuss different fertility treatment options and their varying success rates.
uring the visit, it’s also super important that you get an overall sense of your comfort level with the physician. Do you feel they understand your goals? Do you feel comfortable enough to ask questions? Do you feel that they’ll ill be your advocate on this journey? Really think about this, and if the answer to any of them is “no,” it may be a good idea to chat with a different doctor.
So, what questions should you ask at that first fertility doctor visit?
What diagnosis might explain why we haven’t been able to conceive?
Having an understanding of your fertility and what may be impacting your ability to conceive on your own is pretty important — it gives you the knowledge to make informed decisions about your care. While your doctor may not be apple to tell you the exact cause of infertility at that first visit, they will likely be recommending additional blood work or testing that can help to determine the cause.
What treatment do you recommend for us and what are the potential success rates?
Fertility clinics offer several different treatment options, from oral medications alone or combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI) to IVF. Age, desired family size and fertility diagnosis will all be used to help guide you on the treatment options and their varying success rates.
Don’t be shy to ask your doctor about why he or she is recommending one form of treatment over another and what their rates of achieving a successful pregnancy in someone with your history are as well.
What symptoms or side effects can I expect from the treatment?
Fertility treatment can be filled with a lot of anxiety and worry about the unknowns, so knowing what to expect when you begin treatment can hopefully lessen those feelings.
Side effects to most of the fertility treatments are short in duration and mild. Knowing that you may feel more fatigue and bloating during IVF, or that you may expect a period during stimulation reduces the unnecessary worry during treatment and allows you to focus on your mental, emotional and physical health.
Are there any lifestyle changes we should consider during fertility treatment?
Discussing your overall health with your physician is important in your fertility journey. And truly, there is not one diet or supplement that will magically improve pregnancy rates or reverse infertility.
That being said, we can all agree that we recommend patients be the healthiest version of themselves while going through treatment by maintaining a well balanced diet and exercise routine. We also always recommend not smoking, as smoking can have negative impacts on egg and embryo quality and semen parameters. Additionally, you can discuss whether there are other lifestyle factors you may want to consider for you or your partner as well.
Do you accept insurance? What are the estimated costs of treatment?
Most fertility clinics will have a financial department to run the nitty gritty finance questions through, but at your first visit, you can likely get an overall sense of whether your fertility doctor and clinic accept insurance and which plans they accept.
While many insurance plans cover the work-up for infertility, most may not cover the cost of actual fertility treatment. If you find you have a plan like that, you can ask the finance department whether they offer IVF financing, have shared risk programs or packaged IUI or IVF rates. If you find that you will likely be paying cash for treatment, you can ask your physician basic costs.
Most physicians will likely not be able to give a full rundown of exact costs, but they can probably give an estimate on their different treatment options. If you’re finding you could use an extra hand with the costs of fertility treatment, you can check out CoFertility’s Find a Grant too, which is filled with money-saving opportunities for treatment, here.
Summing it up
Overall, starting the journey of fertility treatment can feel overwhelming and stressful, but having an understanding or what to expect and what questions you should ask may help ease some of the anxiety as you begin treatment. It also allows you to feel empowered during this process, so you feel that you’re making informed decisions for your reproductive and fertility health. Good luck!