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Wouldn’t it be amazing if starting a family was as simple as flipping a switch? If it was as easy as throwing away your condoms and birth control pills and jumping into the sack with your partner? The need for a fertility doctor would be obsolete in this hypothetical world, which is exactly how we all wish it could be.
But for many, instant fertility is a pipe dream, and getting pregnant is more complicated than we realize.
One of the first hurdles many hopeful parents experience is figuring out whether they actually have a fertility problem that needs addressing. Is lack of conception a product of bad timing, not enough sex, or some reproductive issue requiring treatment?
You’re not alone if you can’t decide whether it’s time to make an appointment for your fertility concerns. But how do you go about even making that appointment??
While your first instinct might be to head to your gynecology office, there are actually more specific gynecology offices that deal with infertility.
Before you start scrolling through search engines for local fertility clinics, you need to figure out the best first steps for your unique situation.
If you’re interested in learning more about when to seek help for conception troubles and who to get that help from, stick with us. The information below will break down reproductive medicine’s who, what, when, where, and why.
Table of Contents
Do You Need Fertility Support?
Let’s start with the basics–do you even need to see a doctor yet?
Remember that magical baby-making switch we talked about at the beginning of the article? Do you also remember how I said it’s not a real thing? Despite what many believe, pregnancy doesn’t occur at the snap of our fingers.
You might assume that having sex without protection a couple of times is all it takes to get pregnant, but that’s not the reality, at least not for most of us.
Research shows that most people will conceive within ONE YEAR if they have regular sex without protection. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will take a whole year to get pregnant, but it can.
Most doctors won’t even see patients under the age of 35 until they’ve gone a year without a positive test result or viable pregnancy.
Just because it’s been a few months without a pregnancy doesn’t mean your eggs and sperm aren’t up to the task. Once you’ve hit that year marker, schedule an appointment.
But what are some other signs you might need to see a fertility doctor besides your conception time frame? Check out the list below:
Infertility Signs to Watch For
The list below contains a small sampling of issues that could indicate infertility struggles. Just because you have one or more of these conditions doesn’t mean you will automatically have difficulty getting pregnant, but they’re worth looking into:
- Recurrent Miscarriage
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Irregular Periods
- Low Ovarian Reserves
- TTC with Endometriosis
If you have a genetic condition or need fertility preservation due to medical treatments like chemotherapy, you might also want to speak with your healthcare provider about fertility-related topics.
Can a Gynecologist Help You Get Pregnant?
Once you decide it might be time to seek fertility help, your first step is to call your gynecologist for a basic infertility workup or a referral to a more specialized gynecologist for a basic workup.
While traditional gynecologists aren’t trained in assisted reproductive technology (ART) techniques, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF), they CAN get you started on the right reproductive path.
Not only can your gynecologist suggest tips to conceive, such as ovulation tracking, but they can also get you started with an infertility workup to diagnose any potential problems.
Infertility Testing 101
So, what does an infertility workup involve, and why do you need one?
Standard fertility testing will highlight any issues with your reproductive health. This also includes any male fertility problems you or your partner could be facing.
Usually, standard infertility workups include:
- Blood Work
- Transvaginal Ultrasounds
- Urine Tests
- Semen Analysis
- Hysterosalpingogram X-Ray
- Sonohysterogram Ultrasounds
Next Steps After Basic Infertility Testing
So you’ve received your results from your infertility workup, and it turns out that you will need some assistance to help get you pregnant. Take a deep breath–MANY of us have been in your shoes!
One of the first things to think about is the fact that Infertility treatment options are not one size fits all.
Before you can choose a treatment path, you’ll want as much information as possible about what’s going on inside your body. This will help you determine which types of medications, reproductive surgery, or ART services will be most beneficial.
Common Reasons You Might Require Fertility Services
Now that you know about common fertility tests, it’s time to think about what those procedures can tell you.
Some of the most common causes of infertility and conception issues include:
- Anatomical Issues, i.e., uterine fibroids or polyps
- Genetic Diseases
- Secondary Infertility
- Insufficient Ovarian Reserve
- Poor Sperm Motility or Low Sperm Count
- Premature Ovarian Failure
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Unexplained Infertility
Should You See a Fertility Specialist or OB/GYN for Infertility Treatment? What’s the Difference?
You’ve received a diagnosis, but where do you go from there? Since most traditional gynecologists can’t provide infertility treatments after your infertility workup, they usually refer you to another physician.
However, if they don’t, or you don’t like their suggestion, you’re welcome to find a medical provider on your own.
What type of fertility doctor should you choose, though?
Since many of us end up working with an obstetrics and gynecology office (OB/GYN) throughout our pregnancies, you might assume you should go ahead and start with them.
Unfortunately, your regular ob/gyn might not be the best choice regarding reproductive challenges.
Sure, your OB can give you the full run-down on prenatal and postpartum care, but they can’t provide the services some of us require to get pregnant in the first place.
On the other hand, fertility doctors receive training in specialized medicine specifically targeted toward infertility and pregnancy.
Note: Sometimes, you need a referral from your gynecologist or PCP before making an appointment with a fertility specialist. If you need additional reproductive services, check with your insurance company about your policy’s particular conditions.
What is a Fertility Doctor Called?
Although you might hear people referring to them as fertility doctors or fertility specialists, healthcare providers who help with conception struggles are actually known as reproductive endocrinologists (RE).
Reproductive endocrinology is a medical practice that treats infertility and other conditions related to reproductive hormones. While those who offer these services and treatments are board-certified ob/gyns, they’ve gone on to receive additional education and training.
Unlike a traditional obstetrics office that provides pregnancy care, an RE office will contain additional resources and staff, such as ART nurses and embryologists.
They also have on-site labs for the delicate handling of eggs, sperm, and embryos used during ART procedures, such as egg retrievals and embryo transfers.
Fertility Treatment Options Your Doctor Might Suggest
When working with an RE to start your family, you will likely be presented with various fertility treatment options. Some of the most common include:
- Fertility Medications, i.e., Clomid, Serophene, etc.
- IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
- Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)
In some cases, your doctor may also suggest third-party reproduction services. This can include options like a gestational carrier or using donor eggs or sperm to conceive.
Make an Appointment with Your Doctor if You Have Questions About Your Reproductive Health
If you think something is happening with your fertility, listen to your body and schedule an appointment with any doctor you trust and feel comfortable with. Whether they’re the “right” kind of doctor or not, they can point you in the direction you need and ensure you get the care and treatment you deserve.
Have you started the search for a reliable fertility doctor in your area?
Infertility Link Round-Up
Would you like to learn more about the ins and outs of infertility? Check out the articles below for more information:
- How to Help Someone With Infertility
- Infertility Stories
- How to Reduce Stress While Trying to Conceive
- TTC Acronyms
- How to Choose a Fertility Clinic
- How to Help Implantation
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.
While every situation is different, we recommend seeking help from a fertility specialist if: You are younger than 35 and have not been able to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. You are age 35 or older and have not been able to conceive after six months of unprotected intercourse.What is a fertility doctor called? ›
The most commonly used fertility specialist is a reproductive endocrinologist or RE. A male fertility specialist is typically a urologist with specialized training, sometimes referred to as an andrologist.What is the difference between a gynecologist and a fertility doctor? ›
Your fertility doctor can diagnose both female and male patients for issues that cause infertility, while an OB/GYN only focuses on women's reproductive health. Reproductive specialists can also create a more individualized plan for fertility treatments, depending on what is causing infertility.How do gynecologists check for fertility? ›
Your doctor will give you a pelvic exam. They may also use an ultrasound to look at your ovaries and uterus, and give you a blood test to check your hormones. Sometimes you'll need to start tracking your ovulation patterns by checking your cervical mucus, taking your temperature, or using home ovulation tests.What happens when you see a fertility specialist? ›
You'll be asked questions about both your medical and fertility history, including your menstrual cycles, experiences of pain during intercourse, any past fertility treatment, how long you've been trying to conceive, how often and when you're timing intercourse, and more.How can I check my fertility at home? ›
Most at-home FSH tests are very similar to pregnancy tests administered at home. For easy testing, use a small cup to collect urine from the first urination of the day. Then dip the testing stick into the urine sample and place on a flat surface while the test results register.How can I check if I'm fertile? ›
- Blood tests. Samples of your blood can be tested for a hormone called progesterone to check whether you're ovulating. ...
- Chlamydia test. Chlamydia is an STI that can affect fertility. ...
- Ultrasound scan. ...
- X-ray. ...
the length of your menstrual cycle – ovulation usually occurs around 12 to 16 days before your period starts, so you may be able to work out when you're likely to ovulate if you have a regular cycle. your cervical mucus – you may notice wetter, clearer and more slippery mucus around the time of ovulation.How do I know if I'm fertile female? ›
If your menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and your period arrives like clockwork, it's likely that you'll ovulate on day 14. That's halfway through your cycle. Your fertile window begins on day 10. You're more likely to get pregnant if you have sex at least every other day between days 10 and 14 of a 28-day cycle.What medicine can help you get pregnant? ›
- Clomiphene citrate. Taken by mouth, this drug stimulates ovulation by causing the pituitary gland to release more FSH and LH , which stimulate the growth of an ovarian follicle containing an egg. ...
- Gonadotropins. ...
- Metformin. ...
- Letrozole. ...
What type of doctor does an infertility evaluation? Your ob-gyn usually will do the first assessment. You also may see a reproductive endocrinologist (an ob-gyn with special training in infertility). Men may see a urologist.Can a gynaecologist see ovulation? ›
Gynecologists, naturally, only will be able to help check the fertility of the female reproductive system. Some of the things that a gynecologist checks include: If you have ovulated by checking your progesterone levels. Your thyroid function.What are 4 causes for female infertility? ›
What Causes Infertility? Problems with ovulation are the most common reasons for infertility in women. A woman's age, hormonal imbalances, weight, exposure to chemicals or radiation and cigarette smoking all have an impact on fertility.At what age does female fertility decline? ›
A woman's peak reproductive years are between the late teens and late 20s. By age 30, fertility (the ability to get pregnant) starts to decline. This decline happens faster once you reach your mid-30s. By 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely.Is it painful to check fertility? ›
Fertility testing doesn't have to be painful—and it shouldn't be. An HSG is a short outpatient procedure and performed in our office. Most women only have mild cramping during an HSG.What is the first step in fertility treatment? ›
Preimplantation genetic testing – genetic testing is done on the embryos before they are transferred to your uterus to determine whether any genetic defects are present.What are the first steps for infertility? ›
If you believe that you or your partner may be experiencing infertility, it's important to seek an evaluation with a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as you can. Typically, the first steps will involve a visit to the doctor, blood tests, a pelvic ultrasound and a semen analysis.What questions will a fertility doctor ask? ›
At your initial fertility consultation, you and your partner will be asked questions about your medical history. Your fertility specialist will ask about a variety of conditions that may have a bearing on fertility such as diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, thyroid disease, or hormone imbalance.How much is it to check how fertile you are? ›
Expenses for Fertility Testing
At-home kits fall in the $100 to $200 range, while costs in a healthcare provider's office or at a fertility clinic can vary.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight can inhibit normal ovulation.
- Prevent sexually transmitted infections. Infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are a leading cause of infertility for women.
- Avoid the night shift, if possible.
Women are born with ~1 million potential eggs (in the form of ovarian follicles), but that's all the eggs we'll ever have. Unlike skin cells or blood cells, which regenerate, our bodies aren't able to make more egg cells.Why is it so hard to get pregnant? ›
There are some relatively controllable factors that may be slowing down a couple's ability to conceive. For women, they include being too overweight or underweight, eating disorders, excessive exercise, smoking and drinking.What is the fastest way to get pregnant? ›
Experts say the best way to get pregnant fast is to have sex once a day, every other day, during the fertile window right before and after ovulation. If you have sex too often, your partner's sperm count may be reduced, and if you don't have enough sex, the sperm may be old and unable to swim as fast.Do prenatal vitamins make you fertile? ›
Do prenatal vitamins make you fertile? Prenate pills do not increase fertility, but they can help you experience a healthy pregnancy and prevent complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advice women on when to start taking prenatals.What vitamins help you get pregnant faster? ›
Folic acid (B9): Most people associate folic acid as a prenatal vitamin, but it can also be a really great supplement for those who are trying to conceive. Folic acid is associated with greater chances of getting pregnant naturally and improves success for those undergoing fertility treatments.What is the best fertility drug to get pregnant over the counter? ›
Clomid Over The Counter – Clomid is a very effective drug that helps in 80% of cases of infertility in women. Unlike other similar medicines that are available only in injection solutions, this drug comes in the form of tablets, which greatly simplifies the whole process.Do Pap smears test for fertility? ›
No, there is no single test to detect female infertility and the same is true for male infertility. A pelvic exam is an integral part of evaluating your fertility, in addition to a Pap smear.Why am I not getting pregnant when everything is normal? ›
Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affect normal ovulation. Irregular ovulation is also a problem. Being overweight can add to ovulation problems and reduce your chances of conceiving. Stress, very low body weight, and excessive exercise also impact ovulation.
Do I need any medical tests or vaccines before trying to conceive? Will mental stress or other mental health conditions affect my chances of pregnancy? Will a previous miscarriage affect my chances of conception? What are my risks with conception if I have had a prior ectopic pregnancy?Can doctors tell if you aren't ovulating? ›
Next, your doctor will order blood tests to check your hormone levels. One test might be a day 21 progesterone blood test. After ovulation, progesterone levels rise. If your progesterone levels do not rise, you are probably not ovulating.
During infertility testing, ultrasound scans can provide information on the ovaries, endometrial lining, and uterus. Specialized ultrasounds can be used to evaluate ovarian reserves, the uterine shape in more detail, and whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked.Can you tell if you're fertile from ultrasound? ›
The follicles fill with fluid and enlarge while the egg is developing. The size and number of these developing follicles can be accurately determined with infertility ultrasound. In this way, the physician can determine the appropriate time to either trigger ovulation or perform an IVF egg retrieval.What are the top 3 causes for infertility? ›
- Age. Women's fertility gradually declines with age, especially in the mid-30s, and it drops rapidly after age 37. ...
- Tobacco use. Smoking tobacco or marijuana by either partner may reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. ...
- Alcohol use. ...
- Being overweight. ...
- Being underweight. ...
- Exercise issues.
- lack of regular ovulation (the monthly release of an egg)
- poor quality semen.
- blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.
- endometriosis – where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (the endometrium) is found outside the womb.
- Age. The quality and quantity of a woman's eggs begin to decline with age. ...
- Smoking. Besides damaging your cervix and fallopian tubes, smoking increases your risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. ...
- Weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight may affect ovulation. ...
- Sexual history. ...
A fertility doctor is a reproductive endocrinologist — a physician who practices a subspecialty of obstetrics and gynecology called reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI).Is a fertility specialist the same as an endocrinologist? ›
Simply put, a reproductive endocrinologist (often referred to as an RE or REI) is a board-certified doctor with years and years of specialized training. A fertility specialist is the generic reference to a provider who claims they're in the fertility field.What is the difference between an OB GYN and a reproductive endocrinologist? ›
OB-GYNs focus on women's reproductive health, whereas reproductive endocrinologists focus on factors impacting fertility, which may involve both females and males.Can Obgyn check egg count? ›
You can ask your doctor to check your egg supply during a routine OB/GYN exam. Regardless of your age, you can request ovarian reserve testing during a regular, annual visit to your obstetrician/gynecologist.