When to See a Doctor for Fertility Treatment
When to seek fertility treatment at a glance
- A couple or individual should see a doctor for fertility treatment if pregnancy hasn’t occurred after 12 months of trying to conceive through unprotected, somewhat frequent sex.
- If the woman is age 35-39, she should only wait six months before seeing a fertility specialist, and women 40 and above should only wait three months before seeking help from a specialist.
- Men can be equally responsible for infertility, which is why we always want to have him accompany his female partner to an initial fertility evaluation exam, or initiate an examination by us or a urologist if he suspects he may have fertility issues.
- People seeking assistance can make an appointment with a fertility doctor, who is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist or certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
Wondering if you need to see us? Check your fertility with our online quiz.
What is infertility and when should one seek fertility treatment?
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility is defined as the result of a disease of the male or female reproductive systems that prevents the conception of a child or the ability to carry a pregnancy to delivery. People who are diagnosed as infertile have typically been trying to conceive on a regular basis for 12 months without any success.
Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors, stemming from issues in both the female and male reproductive systems. Ten to fifteen percent of couples looking to start a family have trouble conceiving. Twelve percent of women between the ages of 15-44 have used fertility treatment to have a successful pregnancy. The most telling sign is age, often the determining factor in the urgency of seeking fertility help.
Women under the age of 35 should consider fertility treatment after 12 months of frequent unprotected sex without any pregnancy results. Women between the ages of 35 and 39 should consider fertility treatment after six months of unprotected sex without any pregnancy results. Lastly, women over the age of 40 struggling with conception should consider fertility treatment after three months of unprotected sex without any pregnancy results. After the 12 month period of no pregnancy results, men should also get tested for infertility.
Couples who have a reason to suspect that they will have trouble getting pregnant, such as, women who have infrequent menses or who have a history of infertility in the past, should be tested sooner. Information on both female and male factors contributing to infertility are listed below.
There are a few reasons why a couple would not seek out infertility help from a specialist. Oftentimes, they are unaware that their lack of conception may actually be a medical issue. Additionally, the high cost of some treatments can be a deterrent. There are actually many different fertility treatment options available, ranging in price. This is why going to see a fertility specialist is the best option, as a specialist has the resources to perform a wider variety of fertility treatments and procedures, whereas a visit to your typical OB/GYN is more limited in the fertility treatment capabilities.
Factors preventing women from conception
The primary cause of infertility in women are issues with ovulation. Women who have experienced irregular periods, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, miscarriages or infections of the fallopian tubes may be subject to infertility.
PCOS is a common disease among women, disrupting their ovulation and the regularity of their periods. Eight to ten percent of reproductive-age women suffer from PCOS. The syndrome can cause cysts to grow on the ovaries, preventing ovulation.
Endometriosis is also a common cause of infertility in women. The tissue that lines the uterine cavity, the endometrium, spreads to other parts of the female reproductive system, such as the ovaries and various places in the abdomen. Symptoms of endometriosis can include abdominal and pelvic pain. Some women have no pain but suffer infertility.
With age comes the decline of the quantity and quality of eggs in a woman’s body. Above the age of 40, there is a greater risk that an egg is genetically abnormal and won’t result in a pregnancy.
Factors preventing men from conception
Male infertility is the primary cause in one-fifth of couples facing infertility. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, men are responsible for 20 percent of infertility cases; in another 30 percent to 40 percent of cases, men are a contributing factor to a couple’s infertility.
Male infertility can be caused by a variety of issues, including testicular disorders and sperm-transport disorders. Low sperm count, which frequently contributes to infertility, can be caused by excessive alcohol and tobacco use, exposure to radiation and chemotherapy, remaining issues from a previous condition, prostate cancer, or a hormone disorder. Men who have suffered injuries and conditions that affected their reproductive organs may experience infertility. Erectile dysfunction can also be linked with infertility.
Upon these circumstances, men should seek professional medical help and get tested for infertility right away. Ways of identifying male infertility include attempting conception for one year without results, a physical examination taking into consideration medical and familial history or a semen analysis in a lab.
Additionally, for both men and women, having cancer or having undergone cancer treatments can lead to infertility. Treatments such as chemotherapy and various forms of radiation can impair the functions of reproductive organs. Before going into such treatments, people often consider cryopreservation, the freezing of sperm and eggs for later use, thus preserving fertility.
Starting the process of infertility evaluation
Women can certainly discuss fertility with their OB/GYN or gynecologist. Some of them take an active role in helping, others refer quickly to a reproductive endocrinologist. If a woman senses that fertility is not a priority for her OB/GYN, or if she wants someone who deals with this full-time, then she will be well-served seeing a fertility specialist first. Not only will this expedite the process, but it will ease the frustration that pairs with infertility.
The first step to working with TRM is to call and set up a consultation. From there, the patient will work with an experienced doctor verified by the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, who will figure out what testing needs to be done. We will determine the treatment options available for the specific patient based on his or her infertility situation, medical history and financial means.