With around 1 in 6 couples experiencing some difficulties when trying to fall pregnant, it helps to understand who you can turn to and how they are likely to approach your situation. The good news is that there are many professionals who can help.
As you consider your next step, the most important factor to take into account is a woman’s age. As more women and couples delay parenthood until later in life, medical professionals recommend that if you are nearing your late 30’s or in your early 40’s, you should consider getting advice sooner rather than later.
Talk to your GP
Many women visit their GP before trying for a baby for a check up and to make sure routine health checks, such as vaccinations and a pap smear, are up to date. Therefore it’s natural that your GP may also be your first point of call if you have been trying for over 12 months (or after six months if you’re 35+) without success.
Your GP will typically make an initial assessment and may even recommend some lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes and exercising. They may refer you to a specialist, although it’s worth noting this is not necessary and you can choose to go directly to a fertility clinic such as Rotunda IVF if you prefer.
See a Fertility Specialist
A fertility specialist has expert training in gynaecology and obstetrics followed by further study in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. This typically takes another three years of training, making them highly skilled in understanding infertility and fertility treatments including IVF.
Fertility specialists can offer a complete range of fertility tests and treatments to both men and women. You may choose to visit a fertility specialist for most fertility concerns, including: if there is no obvious reason for the delay in conception; if the female partner is in her mid-30’s or older; if the female partner has experienced a reproductive issue previously (such as PCOS or blocked fallopian tubes); or if there is a genetic condition in the family that you wish to avoid passing on.
What to expect at your first fertility specialist appointment?
At your first appointment with a fertility specialist, he or she will review your medical history, the results of any previous tests you’ve had done, and arrange more advanced investigations for you and your partner. It is helpful for both the female and male partners to attend this first appointment so that you can be assessed together, ask questions and both understand the options available.
For women, extra tests may include a vaginal ultrasound, a test to check your fallopian tubes are not blocked (ultrasound assessment of tubal patency) or a laparoscopy to look for conditions such as endometriosis. For men, this will likely involve a semen analysis.
Your fertility specialist will discuss the tests that are appropriate to your situation.
A tailored pathway to pregnancy
The results of all these tests will help guide your fertility specialist to develop a recommended plan of action. These options may range from follicle tracking, ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination (IUI) to IVF and ICSI. You may also need to consider donor programs. Your fertility specialist will be able to co-ordinate the most appropriate treatment for you and you will see them regularly throughout your treatment.
The important thing to remember is that your fertility specialist is best placed to provide you with answers and options, and support you on your path to parenthood.