The first appointment to go see a fertility specialist can be both an exciting and stressful event. After months or years of trying to get pregnant naturally it is likely that you will have many questions, expectations, and hopes going into the appointment. Going to a fertility clinic is an opportunity to start getting answers to all of the questions and anxiety that you may have built up over the previous months or years. Now, what exactly happens during this appointment?
What to Expect at The First Appointment
The exact practice will vary from location to location, but the purpose for the visits are all the same. You are there to meet your new fertility team and to provide an in-depth medical history for both you and your partner, if you have one. This meeting will help to determine if more tests are needed in order to develop a treatment plan and embark upon your fertility center journey. The initial visit could take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. If you have a partner, most clinics will recommend that they attend the first appointment. This way you will both be aware of the tests and options for the fertility process. In heterosexual couples, infertility is not always from the women’s side. Research shows that as much as 40 % of infertility is a result of male factors.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
In order to provide an in-depth medical history, it is important to bring a list of all the medications that you take, including vitamins, herbs, and supplements. Be prepared to discuss things such as how long you have been trying to get pregnant, how often you and your partner have intercourse, if you have been tracking your basal body temperature or using ovulation predictors, and any alternative fertility routes that you may have already taken. After discussing medical records, you will then discuss which tests would be most helpful to further diagnose.
Common Fertility Tests Required
During your first appointment you may discuss further tests to be conducted. It is always helpful to be familiar with these terms to have a deeper understanding of the process.
• Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
This is a test done in a radiology department of a hospital or clinic. A dye is injected into the uterine cavity through the vagina and cervix. This test is done to make sure that the uterus has a normal internal architecture and that the fallopian tubes are not blocked and appear normal.
• Transvaginal Ultrasound
An ultrasound tube is placed inside of the vagina to examine the uterus and ovaries for abnormalities and to count the number of developing egg follicles, or egg sacs, at a certain time of the menstrual cycle.
• Blood Tests
To see if there is any hormonal disorder, the female sex hormone estradiol, the luteinizing hormone LH, the follicle stimulating hormone FSH and the male sex hormone testosterone are determined.
• A Semen Analysis
A semen analysis is conducted to determine the volume of sperm, the count of sperm, concentration, motility, and morphology within an ejaculate.
• Blood Tests
Hormones also play an important role in procreation in men. In the blood – among other things – the values of FSH and LH are determined. These hormones are needed for the maturation of sperm cells. The testosterone level must also be determined, as it influences the formation of FSH.
Get the Answers that You Need
It is important to think about what sort of questions you may have for your new fertility team. Writing out a list of questions beforehand will help so that you can make sure to remember any that you may have in the moment. There are many questions that you may have for this process. Some that you might want to consider asking are below:
- Which specific tests do you suggest myself and/or my partner undergo? When diagnosing infertility and developing treatment plans many clinics want to have many different tests done beforehand. Some of these tests might include: a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), blood tests, an ultrasound, and a sperm analysis for men.
- What types of treatments or procedures does your clinic offer? Not all clinics perform all fertility treatments. It is important to make sure that your clinic has the different options that would be right for you.
- How much does each fertility treatment cost? At this stage it is very important to tell your doctor about how much money you are willing to commit to having a baby. If you are trying to stick to a budget, don’t be ashamed to be upfront about it and discuss this with your fertility team. During this appointment, you may meet with a financial counselor at the fertility center. They will help to provide you with information about insurance coverage, financing plans, discounts, prescription discount programs, and loans.
- Are there any lifestyle changes you recommend that might increase our odds at conceiving? A fertility specialist will be able to provide you with helpful advice and practices that may help your odds at conceiving. For example, you may be advised to opt for a more balanced diet or more exercise. In some cases weight reduction and the avoidance of alcohol and nicotine is a necessary step. Although this may seem like a simple question, it is always worth asking for further options and information.
- Does your clinic perform procedures on weekends and holidays? Most clinics are open on the weekend for certain procedures and lab work. Some fertility treatments require coming into the office multiple times a week, so it is always important to see if their hours will work within your schedule.
- What are our next steps? It is important to have an understanding of what to expect next. While most first appointments can be an overload of information and setting a schedule for more tests, it is good to get a picture of what is to come.