More and more celebrities seem to be getting pregnant later in life, which makes it sound so easy but the fact remains: tens of thousands of American women will experience difficulty conceiving. It’s a daunting fact, and women and couples who are experiencing infertility report a whole host of emotional reactions, ranging from anxiety to sadness to intense jealousy (when a friend or neighbor conceives easily).
As a psychologist at one of the biggest infertility centers in the country, Boston IVF, I know how easy it is to focus on the negatives – on not succeeding month after month – but the fact is that infertility treatment is successful most of the time. The key is figuring out how to access treatment which can work for you.
One of the biggest challenges couples need to overcome is knowing when to see a specialist, and how to make the most out of their visit. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) defines infertility as the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after a year or more of regular unprotected intercourse.
If a woman is under age 35, a fertility evaluation is recommended for someone who has been trying to conceive for one year. For women older than 35, ASRM recommends seeking out a specialist after only six months. But if you’re one of the tens of thousands having trouble conceiving, it may be easier said than done to take the next step – you might not even know how, or what, to say.
The good news is: it’s just a conversation. And, I can also tell you that in a survey I worked on with Merck, 91% of couples wish they had seen a fertility specialist sooner than they did.
So, assuming that you and your partner do decide it’s time to see a specialist, so many things might be going through your head: Who do we see? What do I say? What are the right questions to ask? How do we know who has the fertility problem? What do we do, and how is plan of action going to make me feel?
Here are just a few important questions to ask before, during, and after your first appointment with a specialist:
- What are your credentials and experience with treating infertility?
- How do you determine a treatment plan?
- Which tests will be done? What do the recommended tests involve? Do you test both of us? Does the timing of the testing matter?
- Are there lifestyle changes my partner or I can make to enhance our fertility?
- Should counseling or support services be considered during the testing process?
From my years of experience working with thousands of individuals and couples who have struggled with infertility, the good news is that the majority of women who do see a fertility specialist give birth to healthy babies.
Visit Merck’s FertilityGuide.com for helpful resources including a doctor discussion guide and a fertility specialist locator, to help couples take the first steps of finding a specialist in their area that works for them.