If you’re planning to see a fertility doctor, you’ll get the most out of your visit if you come prepared. Discussing issues like egg quality, sperm count, timing sex, and treatment options can leave anyone feeling a little dazed and confused. And getting started on the right foot will make what can be a stressful, confusing process go much more smoothly. This list of questions is a great thing to take along with you to your next visit—and don’t forget to bring something to take notes with!
1. What is your experience with the evaluation and treatment of fertility issues?
Not all providers who treat infertility are created equal. In the US, a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) is someone who has completed a four-year medical school, a four-year residency program in obstetrics and gynecology, and a three-year fellowship program in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. An RE is a true fertility specialist who usually provides all types of fertility treatment options, including in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some providers may do fertility testing as well as low-tech treatments like medication to help with ovulation and intrauterine inseminations (IUI) but many may not. If you are starting low-tech treatment with a primary care provider, get a long-term plan and ask your provider at what point they would consider referring you to a specialist if the treatments are unsuccessful.
2. How will I get my questions answered?
Evaluation and treatment for infertility will leave you with many questions about timing, medications, test results, and options, so find out in the beginning how you will get answers. Will you have a nurse assigned to you to answer questions? What about questions that come up after clinic hours and on weekends?
3. Is your clinic open every day? (Because ovulation does not care if it’s a weekend!)
What if you need an ultrasound or an intrauterine insemination on a weekend? If the clinic is closed on weekends, you may want to consider finding an alternative—or at least be prepared to miss treatments in your cycle when you are ovulating on the weekend.
4. What tests do you recommend, why, and how will I learn the results?
Fertility tests are pretty standard and involve checking on female anatomy, egg supply, and sperm quality, but each patient may need slightly different testing based on their history. Ask about the recommended testing for you and how you can get help interpreting the results.
5. What are my options for treatment and chances of success with each one?
Your fertility provider may give you with a treatment plan that sounds good to you, but make sure to ask specific questions about your chances of success and any alternatives that may be available to you. Fertility treatment options usually involve ovulation induction with medication, with or without an intrauterine insemination, and IVF with your own eggs or donor egg. If you are planning IVF, ask about intracytoplasmic sperm injection (a fertilization method also called ICSI), genetic screening of embryos, and chances of success with donor egg and/or donor sperm. Even if all of those options sound unappealing or scary, educate yourself early in the process so you truly know all of your options and have perspective on the overall chances of success.
6. What should my long-term plan be?
Ask this question early. If you’re planning to start with low-tech treatments like ovulation induction or intrauterine inseminations, understand the chances of success each try (usually 20% or less depending on the couple) and work with your provider to create a long-term plan. Ask how many inseminations will you should try before considering alternative treatment like IVF? Have a plan. Write it down.
7. What would you do if you were me?
This is the best question you could ever ask your doctor. This is where you can get to what they are really thinking. It’s okay if you don’t agree with their answer, but hopefully you’ll get a clear picture of what they feel is best for you.
Hopefully your fertility journey is short and successful but being prepared and having a plan will help decrease stress and keep you on track. Be flexible in your plan, however, it’s ok to change your mind and your path along the way. Find a provider that will listen to you, answer your questions, and be on your team in the process. Best of luck!
Learn more about infertility and miscarriage with more blog posts at drlorashahine.com.