Infertility is defined as the failure of a couple to conceive a child after at least a year of trying. It is a common problem that affects about one out of eight couples. Infertility has multiple causes and thus requires a doctor’s attention. Below is more information on when you should consider visiting an infertility doctor.
When Should a Couple See a Doctor about Infertility?
In most cases, the couple should see an infertility doctor if they have been trying to conceive for about a year.
In other cases, they may need to visit an infertility doctor earlier. For example, a woman who is between the ages of 35 and 40 should call the doctor after six months of trying. A woman who is over 40 should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The same is true of women with a history of miscarriages, pelvic inflammatory disease, STDs, or endometriosis. Women who have painful and/or irregular periods should also see an infertility doctor as soon as possible. Women who are also undergoing cancer treatments should visit the doctor as soon as they decide to try to have a child.
Like women, men should also call the fertility specialist early if they have a history of STDs. They should also talk to the doctor if they have a history of fertility problems. Men with varicoceles or varicose veins in the scrotum should call their doctor. Erectile dysfunction and some autoimmune disorders and hormonal imbalances can also impair a man’s ability to sire a child.
What Can the Couple Expect during Their Appointment?
Many conditions and problems can cause infertility, so the doctor’s first step will be to determine the cause. They will start by taking a detailed medical history to help them spot possible causes.
In about 1/5 cases, the problem will prove to lie solely with the man. The doctor may perform a semen analysis during which they will check the number and quality of the man’s sperm. Misshapen sperm that don’t move properly won’t be able to fertilize any eggs. The doctor may also check for abnormalities like blockages in the man’s reproductive system.
When examining the woman, the doctor will also check for abnormalities in her reproductive system. In addition to pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, other common causes of infertility in women include uterine fibroid, early menopause, and pelvic adhesions. The last describes bands of scar tissue that form and bind organs. They can be caused by an infection like appendicitis, or they can be caused by surgical procedures in the abdominal or pelvic regions.
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