Starting a family seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, but the truth is that many couples struggle with family planning. It is understandably difficult to stay optimistic when it feels like there are impossible barriers to overcome. Before you lose your optimism, you should know that there is a way to get help for your family planning needs. At Centro Medico Latino in Charlotte, NC we prioritize the health of the whole family, and that often starts with seeking the help of a fertility specialist.
When Should I See a Fertility Specialist?
The decision of when to see a fertility doctor is one that many patients struggle with. Some couples want to conceive naturally, while others feel a sense of shame for having trouble with their reproductive health in the first place. However, when it comes to family planning, if you are serious about getting pregnant and starting a family, then scheduling an appointment with a fertility doctor is a top priority.
So, when should you see a fertility specialist? If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, or having other reproductive or sexual health issues, then it is the right time to see a physician specialized in fertility health.
What Does a Fertility Specialist Do?
A provider that specializes in fertility is essentially a doctor for reproductive health. Physicians who are educated in fertility and reproductive health are well-versed in the hormonal, physical, and mental components involved in family planning. Fertility doctors are capable of diagnosing fertility-related medical issues and are qualified to provide fertility treatments. Fertility doctors are also seen by patients who have reproduction health concerns, such as irregular menstrual cycles and erectile dysfunction.
A fertility doctor is usually thought of as a doctor who assists patients in conceiving, meaning they are often thought of as the first step for pregnancy. It is common for fertility doctors to work closely with your regular OB-GYN, as well as your regular primary care physician. Fertility doctors assess, diagnose, and assist in all of your fertility health needs.
What Happens During a Fertility Specialist Consultation?
Before you are given fertility treatment, you will need to attend a consultation with a fertility doctor. A fertility consultation is an involved process that looks at several aspects of the health for both partners. Unlike other doctors, a fertility doctor usually sees both the woman and the man at the same time, as conception is something that requires the health of both partners. Here are a few things you can expect from a fertility consultation:
The general medical history of both patients will need to be disclosed. This includes any significant illnesses, surgeries, and drug allergies the patients have had. We will also need a list of current medications and supplements. Most patients will also need to disclose additional information, such as lifestyle habits. It is important to be as honest as possible about your medical history so the fertility doctor can have the fullest picture of your medical history and overall health.
Labs and Exams
The fertility doctor will require both partners to complete several labs and exams, such as a physical, blood work, urinalysis, and a hormone evaluation. These labs and exams provide information for the fertility doctor to assess your overall health as well as detect any underlying causes for infertility. These labs will often pinpoint the cause of fertility health issues in both the male and female partners.
For men, a fertility doctor will likely ask you to complete a sperm analysis, which shows sperm abnormalities that contribute to infertility. A sperm analysis involves a collection of a sperm sample, which is done at our office in a private room.
For women, a fertility doctor will ask you to complete two additional exams – an ultrasound and hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The ultrasound will be an in-office exam to look at the uterus and ovaries to detect any abnormalities, such as cysts or scarring. The HSG is a special x-ray done at a hospital that looks for structural problems in the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Common Reasons for Fertility Treatment
Sexual and reproductive health issues are common in both men and women of all ages, which means there are several reasons to seek fertility treatment. The most common reasons patients seek treatment from a fertility doctor include:
Infertility refers to trouble getting pregnant or conceiving. Most patients who seek help for infertility are those who have been trying to get pregnant for a year or more without success. If you are not using contraceptives and you cannot conceive after more than a year, then it is probable that you are encountering trouble with infertility.
Repeated miscarriage is another reason that patients seek help from a fertility doctor. Miscarriage occurs when you are pregnant, but the pregnancy is not viable. Many miscarriages happen without the patient even knowing that they are pregnant since the miscarriage appears as a heavier-than-normal cycle that is only a few weeks late. Other miscarriages happen during the first trimester or the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Reproductive health refers to any issues a woman or man has with their reproductive organs. In women, issues with reproductive health are indicated by irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis, or other health issues associated with the uterus. In men, issues with reproductive health can be seen in erectile dysfunction, lower libido, or other sexual health issues.
Other reasons to see a fertility doctor for treatment include factors that can contribute to infertility, such as a history with sexually transmitted diseases. Some STIs are capable of causing problems with fertility even years after the infection has been treated. This is true for both men and women, which is why a fertility doctor assesses the history of both partners.
What Causes Infertility in Women?
For women, infertility can be caused by many different factors. A woman’s reproductive and sexual health is determined by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. The common causes of infertility in women include:
Hormonal imbalance can create many issues for women, including infertility. Hormonal imbalance includes early menopause, lower levels of estrogen, or higher levels of prolactin. Hormones help the body know when to ovulate and when to menstruate, and they also help determine many aspects of sexual health.
The uterus plays a large role in fertility, so any issues with uterine health are often a primary cause of infertility. Issues with uterine health include uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
The ovaries, which store and release ova, are another primary cause of infertility. Ova are the eggs that are fertilized by sperm, so when there are issues in ovarian health, it may be difficult to get pregnant. Ovarian health issues include ovulation disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and issues with the fallopian tubes, which carry ova to the uterus.
Issues with menstrual health are the third primary cause of infertility. Menstrual health includes the regularity of menstrual cycles, heavy mensuration, or other symptoms that indicate menstrual issues that are associated with hormonal challenges.
What Causes Infertility in Men?
For men, infertility tends to be caused by only a few factors. A man’s reproductive and sexual health is generally determined by genetic predisposition and environmental or lifestyle factors. The two most common causes of infertility in men include:
Hormonal imbalance in men can cause several issues, including lowered sexual interest, difficulty getting and maintaining an erection, and other issues. Hormones in men are largely responsible for the production of sperm, so a hormonal imbalance, and particularly low testosterone, can be a huge concern for a man’s sexual health.
Sperm is a specialized cell that carries genetic information and that fertilizes an ovum. When sperm health is compromised, it may be impossible to fertilize an egg and cause a pregnancy. Issues with sperm health include low sperm count, slow sperm, low sperm mobility, or other impairments to the delivery of sperm.
Common Fertility Treatments
There are several fertility treatments used by fertility doctors to help patients begin family planning. The type of fertility treatment you have will depend on your exact needs, your expectations for treatment, and your personal preferences. At our office, the fertility treatments we offer include:
For some patients, a simple adjustment in the hormones of each partner is enough to create a path for pregnancy. With balanced hormones, it is possible to regulate menstrual cycles, elevate sperm count, and raise the sexual interest of both partners. For some patients, this type of intervention is enough to conceive naturally.
Ovulation Treatment With Home Intercourse
Ovulation treatment with home intercourse is mainly concerned with correcting the ovulation cycle of the female partner. Ovulation treatment is done with fertility and hormone therapy to correct the menstrual cycle and track ovulation to determine the ideal window for conception. During this window, we encourage partners to conceive with home intercourse. We then follow up with urinalysis and blood work to determine if there is a pregnancy.
Ovulation Treatment With IUI
Ovulation treatment with IUI involves the same type of ovulation therapy to track fertility windows, but the fertilization of the egg itself is done in the office. IUI means artificial insemination, which is when a sperm sample is collected and then placed directly into the uterus. Artificial insemination is ideal for patients who have slow sperm mobility or lower sperm count.
Should I See a Fertility Specialist?
If you and your partner are trying to start a family but are having trouble with conceiving a viable pregnancy, then you might seriously consider seeing a fertility doctor. Taking the first step and seeking help from a qualified physician who specializes in fertility is a responsible, health-conscious decision that has helped thousands of patients start a family.
Who Are Good Candidates?
Good candidates for fertility treatment include men and women who are experiencing reproductive and sexual health issues. Candidates qualified for fertility treatment are those who have been assessed with exams and labs and whose health has been determined appropriate for fertility treatments. You may be a good candidate for treatment if you have:
- Uterine or ovarian health issues
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- History of miscarriage
- Hormonal imbalances
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sperm abnormalities
Rethink Family Planning With Fertility Specialists!
Trouble with conceiving does not mean you need to lose hope that you and your partner can have a child. It’s time to reclaim your optimism and rethink your family planning. For more information about treatment with a fertility specialist, get in touch with Centro Medico Latino in Charlotte, NC to schedule your initial consultation. Our compassionate staff is eager to help you begin your family planning journey.