Many women look forward to having children. So the thought of infertility can be frightening. Adding to this anxiety is not knowing what your options are if you are. This is why South Lake OBGYN in Clemont, FL specializes in both the testing and treatment of infertility.
What Does It Mean to Be Infertile?
Infertility means you’re unable to get pregnant after at least 12 months of having unprotected sex. It may be temporary or permanent. For example, the older women get, the more difficult it is to conceive a baby. Once you’re past the age of 30, the chances of conception drop by between 3% to 5% each year.
However, there are also situations where the cause of your infertility is a temporary issue. Sometimes, fertility treatments can help and result in a successful conception. Fertility-related issues can be present in both males and females. Sometimes, it’s a combination of problems with both partners that makes conception difficult.
What Is a Fertility Specialist?
A fertility doctor can be an OBGYN (for women) or an urologist (for men). Both can be helpful for identifying and treating fertility-related issues.
Another type of fertility doctor is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility physician (REI). These doctors undergo extensive training in this field. They can be particularly helpful for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.
In some cases, you may get referred to a fertility specialist by your primary care physician (PCP) or a general practitioner. Similarly, if you need a treatment or procedure your OBGYN doesn’t specialize in, they may refer you to someone who does.
Reasons to See a Specialist
There are many reasons to see a specialist. It’s something both men and women can benefit from.
You’re Struggling to Get Pregnant
The most obvious and common reason to see a fertility professional is that you’re seemingly unable to get pregnant. By definition, being infertile means the inability to conceive after at least a year of unprotected sex.
One of the most painful parts of struggling to conceive a child is trying to come to terms with the fact that you might be infertile. Some people are in denial or assume the issue is with their partner. Others fear that it will mean facing the reality that they have only a slim chance of getting pregnant.
However, seeing a specialist can give you the answers you need. More, it can put you that much closer to get the appropriate treatments and, hopefully, pregnancy.
Additional Reasons to See a Specialist
- A history of sexually transmitted diseases
- Endometriosis symptoms, such as severe pain during menstruation
- A history of miscarriages
- Family history of premature menopause
- A history of sexually transmitted diseases
- Low or poor-quality of sperm
- Inability or difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
When Is the Best Time to See a Fertility Specialist?
If your physician or PCP recommends or refers you to a fertility doctor, that should be reason enough to go. However, there are times when an issue might be present that your general practitioner isn’t aware of. Therefore, it helps to know the ideal times for visiting a fertility doctor.
You’re Under 35 and It’s Been at Least 12 Months
If you’re under 35 and haven’t used birth control in at least 12 months, a fertility-related problem may certainly be at play that warrants a visit to a specialist. This is especially true if you’ve been charting your cycles but still haven’t had success.
Being proactive about your reproductive health is so important. The sooner you see a professional, reliable, and trusted OBGYN about your concerns, the quicker you’ll be able to address them.
You’re Over 35 and It’s Been at Least Six Months
Getting pregnant can take time. Many couples don’t conceive without at least six months of focused, active effort. However, if you’re above the age of 35, the ‘biological clock’ is ticking and seeing a specialist should be a priority.
When it comes to egg fertilization, time is of the essence. You don’t want to waste precious time on unreliable methods or assume that whatever problem is present will resolve itself.
In most cases, the sooner you see an infertility specialist, the better. The more you know, the better positioned you’ll be to make proactive, informed decisions.
What Causes Someone to Be Infertile?
The inability to conceive a child naturally with your partner may stem from an issue with you, your partner, or both of you. The causes of fertility problems differ in men and women, however.
Common Causes for Women
There are many factors that can contribute to a woman’s ability to conceive. Among the most common are hormones and issues with cervical, uterine, and fallopian tube health. Sometimes, the reason for being infertile cannot be understood or explained.
Another common cause is simply aging. If you’re above 35, six months of unprotected sex without conception may indicate fertility issues. However, if you’re under 35 and only recently stopped taking birth control, it may just mean that your body needs more time.
Common Causes for Men
The most common cause of infertility among men is a low count or poor quality of sperm. As with women, this can happen with age. It can also happen if the veins in the testes are enlarged.
The cause might also be abnormal sperm production or function. This can happen for various reasons, including undescended testicles, health problems, or sexually transmitted infections.
How Do You Find Out If You’re Infertile?
If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, it’s understandable that you might be concerned that you’re infertile. While there are some apps and at-home tests you can use to learn about your fertility, they aren’t always the most reliable. The best way to know for sure is through fertility testing.
To determine whether you’re infertile, your doctor will need to perform a handful of tests. It is unlikely all of these tests will be necessary. However, in most cases, a combination of them will be.
We use blood tests primarily for checking your hormone levels. For example, these can be helpful for checking your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. This hormone plays an important role in preparing your ovaries for monthly egg release. Blood tests can also be used to check your anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) levels, which indicate how many eggs you have.
This testing is done on the uterus lining. Your specialist will take a tissue sample from the lining of your uterus, also known as the endometrium, and send it to the lab for testing. The analysis will look for any abnormalities.
Ultrasounds are used to check the status and health of your reproductive organs.
Diagnostic testing can be useful for detecting any tubal obstructions and scar tissue that may impact your ability to get pregnant. This can be done in multiple ways. Often, it will involve a mini telescope or piece of equipment with a camera to get a better view of your reproductive organs. This can help identify abnormalities that may contribute to the inability to get pregnant.
Semen Analysis (SA)
An SA test is the most common and frequently used method for testing for infertility in men. In this process, a sample of the male’s ejaculation is examined in a lab. During the analysis, sperm are counted and assessed for any potential issues it may have in moving through the female reproductive tract.
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether you’re infertile is to see a doctor who specializes in the testing and treatment of this condition. We have the resources and experience needed to perform the tests and give you the information you’re looking for.
How Do Doctors Treat Infertility?
If you discover that you are in fact infertile, there are several methods that might be used to treat it. The type of treatment we choose will depend on what’s learned through testing.
Perhaps the most popular and well-known type of treatment, IVF is a process in which eggs are fertilized in a culture dish before being placed in the uterus.
This surgical procedure is done when the reproductive organs need to be reconstructed. It can also be used for IVF patients diagnosed with pelvic or tubal disease. If this treatment is needed, you will be put under general anesthesia during the procedure. Then the doctor will use a fiber-optic tool to view and remove any abnormalities that may cause the inability to conceive. This might include endometriosis or scar tissue.
There are various medical therapies you can undergo that can help with egg multiplying. Some popular types include clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins.
If your doctor attributes the cause of infertility to the presence of fibroid tumors or polyps, scar tissue, or blocked tubes, this may be the treatment. It involves placing a device in the uterus through your cervix to remove the tumors or unblock the tubes. The hysteroscope, which is the device used in this process, has a light and camera that enables your doctor to view your uterine lining. This tool can also be used for evaluating and diagnosing the problem.
Other Treatment Possibilities
Additional types of treatments include:
- Intrauterine insemination
- Egg donation
- Intracytoplasmic (ICSI)
How to Prepare for a Visit With a Fertility Doctor
What to Expect
You’ll undergo an initial consultation and examination to gather as much information as possible, including you and your partner’s medical history. Your first visit with a fertility doctor will begin with diagnosing the issue. This appointment will also be used to discuss the types of testing that may be required and your potential treatment options.
Once your testing is complete, you’ll be ready to move on to the next course of action. A treatment plan will then be created. The next steps could range anywhere from simply taking fertility medications to undergoing IVF.
What to Bring
It’s a good idea to bring your medical records to your appointment with the doctor. This will make it easier to form an educated course of treatment. You will also want to bring your insurance information.
Also, you might consider writing down a list of questions and concerns to address during this visit. This can be a complicated and stressful time in your life, and you undoubtedly have many unknowns. Jotting these questions down to bring to your appointment prevents you from forgetting to ask anything important on you or your partner’s mind regarding fertility testing and treatment.
Schedule a Consultation With a Fertility Specialist
If you’re ready to see an infertility specialist, call us at South Lake OBGYN in Clermont, FL today. We’re happy to schedule a consultation for you and help you take the necessary next steps for addressing your fertility.