How long have you been trying?
The length of time that a couple has struggled to conceive can have an impact on which provider to see. Typically, if a couple has been trying to get pregnant for over a year, the fertility specialist is the provider to see. But for many women, seeing an OB/GYN is often the first step. A gynecologist can provide some initial fertility testing, especially to test for underlying conditions. For example, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can all affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. If one of these conditions is at play, an OB/GYN can provide treatment options.
What is your provider’s training?
Fertility specialists are healthcare providers who have completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology in addition to the 4-year training to become a doctor. Some practicing OB/GYNs may be board-certified in reproductive endocrinology, which means this specialist would have more knowledge of fertility treatments. However, if an OB/GYN does not have these extra credentials, the provider may only be familiar with a few treatment options. And even if an OB/GYN is familiar with more treatments, a women’s health clinic may not offer those treatment options.
Evaluate your own risk
Women who have had previous miscarriages, STDs, or are over 30 years old may want to jump straight to seeing a fertility specialist. Especially if a woman is over 35 years old, the timeline for trying to get pregnant before seeing a specialist is only 6 months. If all underlying conditions are being managed effectively and the woman still cannot get pregnant, a fertility specialist is the best option.
Evaluate your partner’s health
Another reason to jump straight to an appointment with a fertility specialist is if the male partner is having trouble with fertility. If the fertility specialist finds abnormalities in sperm quality, quantity, or mobility, there is a possibility that the male partner will be referred to a urologist to treat any of those underlying issues.
Fertility testing can offer hope
Although fertility testing can be a stressful experience, the process can offer hope. When a couple knows the reason for infertility, more options open up. When a fertility specialist can help pinpoint the issue, then the couple can begin discussing fertility treatment options, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI). For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.