Angie's LIST Guide to
The basics of fertility Issues
Many factors can contribute to reproductive issues in women and men, including diet, smoking, alcohol, caffeine and environmental elements, such as toxins. Stress and age, in addition to underlying health conditions such as endometriosis, can also produce problems in conceiving a child. As a woman ages, she produces fewer eggs, and the possibility for conception gradually decreases. Male partners may suffer from low sperm counts as a result of medications, steroid usage, too much alcohol and smoking or erectile dysfunction.
If you and your partner are exploring options to remedy potential fertility problems, know that you have many resources to help guide you toward the goal of conceiving a child. Sometimes the movement toward more advanced treatments starts with a referral from an obstetrician, gynecologist or general practitioner. Likewise, if the male is experiencing any underlying health problems that are making conception difficult, his primary care physician will likely recommend a doctor specializing in male reproductive problems. In many cases, the cause of infertility in a couple won't immediately indicate which partner may have issues. Both partners should approach the process with support and understanding.
To find a specialist or clinic that fits your situation, first check whether your insurance covers this specialty. Also, your insurance carrier may require a referral from your OB/GYN or GP. If you are covered, make sure the specialist or clinic is in your insurance network. From that list, refer to Angie's List for member reviews and ratings about their experiences.
What to expect from a fertility test
For couples where one or both partners face fertility complications, or in the case of a same-sex couple who wishes to conceive, several treatment options are available. In vitro fertilization (IVF) entails fertilizing the egg cells with sperm outside of the patient's body using a test tube and Petri dish. For patients unable to conceive, egg donation is another option that also involves IVF, but in this case the embryos are placed within the uterus of a woman who has agreed to be the birth mother. These procedures can help women who are unable to conceive. Additionally, if their male partners have low sperm levels, a couple can enlist a sperm donor.
Your doctor also may offer you the choice of receiving ongoing injections to boost your hormone levels and increase your chances of conceiving. If the male partner has a low sperm count, your doctor may test to analyze potency levels. Your doctor will want to make sure that you have a healthy diet, as proper nutrition contributes to your overall health and wellness. If female has had a tubal ligation or if the male partner has had a vasectomy, you can explore reversal treatment options.
What to expect during fertility testing
During your first doctor's visit, you'll need to give information about your medical history and any present health conditions for which you are currently receiving treatment. Most commonly, doctor's offices have a nurse, physician's assistant or medical assistant meet with the patient to collect the medical history, discuss health insurance coverage and provide information about available services.
Before the testing procedures, a physician or technician will start with general lab tests, including blood and urine samples to measure hormone levels. He or she will take a Pap smear and your basal body temperature, which increases during the time of ovulation. Using ultrasound, the doctor can scan for potential uterine cysts or fibroids. Expect the appointment and physical examination to be complete and thorough so that your doctor can find any problems or underlying conditions that may be preventing you from conceiving. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor any questions that will help you better understand the treatment that you'll receive as you move toward your goal of conception and pregnancy.