The First Visit, a Big Step on the Journey to Conception
When you make the decision to start fertility treatments you have a lot to do and a lot to think about. After you’ve chosen the fertility clinic and scheduled your first appointment, the nurse who coordinates patient intake usually gives you a list of medical records to bring to your visit and forms to fill out for both you and your partner. Sometimes the reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) will send one or both of you to get tests done so he or she will have the results for your first visit.
It’s an emotional time, and you’re likely to feel scared and excited at the same time. Your partner may not be calm either! But this is one occasion when two heads are better than one. You should both come to this first consultation. If you are pursuing fertility treatment as a single person, bring a friend or family member with you. One of you should take notes because it’s hard to remember accurately all the information you’re given at any medical visit. Another good idea is to bring a list of all your questions about fertility treatment options and what they mean to you. Your entire first appointment will probably last at least an hour to an hour and a half, including filling out the paperwork and your consultation.
Here are some questions to ask the fertility doctor. You will probably have more, but these will help you understand the next steps from your visit and what the likely effects will be.
Why Haven’t We Been Able to Conceive Yet?
This is the basic question on everyone’s mind. Your doctor may be able to give you an answer based on your medical history and the tests you’ve already had. If the answer isn’t clear, more testing may be needed.
What Other Tests Do We Need? Does My Insurance Cover Them?
The answer to the first question depends on which tests you and your partner have had , what the results were and how recently they were performed. For example, if the semen analysis was inconclusive, your doctor may want the male partner to have blood tests to evaluate hormone levels, or other types of tests to look for infection, blockages or other conditions. Your doctor may order additional tests for you as well to get as complete a picture as possible of why you’re having difficulty conceiving. Fertility clinics usually have financial counselors who can help you determine what your insurance will cover as well as how to finance any treatment or testing which is not covered.
What Treatment Do You Recommend First, and How Long Will We Try This?
The type of infertility treatment recommended and how long you try it affects both the cost and the potential outcome. Your age and your diagnosis are both factors in the recommended treatment, as well as your doctor’s expertise and evaluation of what will work best.
Are There Side Effects to This Treatment?
You need to know what you’re committing to. If your treatment will involve fertility drugs you will probably feel both physical and emotional effects. Your partner needs to understand this as well. If the testing finds that one or both of you need medications or procedures to improve your chance of getting pregnant, be sure and ask what that will involve.
What is Your Success Rate With This Treatment?
Ask the doctor how many of these procedures the clinic has performed and what the success rates are. Detailed information may be available on the fertility center’s website or from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Whether it’s IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization) or IVF with donor eggs, the information will help you decide whether to pursue treatment and for how long, as well as cost factors.
You probably already know that age is a factor in the success of fertility treatments. When you talk to your doctor, ask her or him to discuss the likelihood of success at your age and the cost of each treatment option that is under consideration.