When women are trying to conceive, often the first medical professional they consult is their gynecologist. For many women, the gynecologist may even be the only physician they have seen on a regular basis. How do you know when it’s time to consult a fertility specialist?
A reproductive endocrinologist is a fellowship-trained expert in treating infertility, who can customize a plan with the most advanced assisted reproductive technology (ART) to help you get pregnant. Here are five important reasons to see a reproductive endocrinologist.
If you are 35 years old or older and have been TTC for six months without success, or 39 or older and have been trying for three months, it’s time to see a fertility specialist. If you are under 35 and have been trying for a year, it’s time for you to consider it as well. Age is the most important factor in infertility for women. As you get older, your eggs get older as well. They become more likely to have chromosomal problems which can cause miscarriage or prevent them from developing. The quantity of eggs becomes smaller, too, over time. The clock is ticking on your fertility, but, fortunately, a reproductive endocrinologist can provide treatments to help you have a family.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
If you’ve had two or more miscarriages before the pregnancy reached 20 weeks, known as recurrent pregnancy loss, a reproductive endocrinologist may be able to help you. Recurrent pregnancy loss has several causes, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Many are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the eggs. Other causes include lifestyle issues such as smoking and untreated medical conditions such as thyroid problems or diabetes. About half of all cases don’t have an apparent cause. A fertility specialist is best able to evaluate the reasons and develop a treatment plan to start your family.
At any age, if you are not ovulating regularly and haven’t responded to medication to treat this, it’s time to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that have been treated with Clomid for three to six months without resulting in a pregnancy may need a different, more comprehensive approach.
Fallopian Tube Blockages
You should consider consulting a fertility specialist if your fallopian tubes have blockages or scar tissue, whether it’s caused by endometriosis or scarring from pelvic inflammatory disease or STDs in the past. In the 20th century the treatment of choice for fallopian tube blockages was laparoscopic surgery. In recent years research has found that it may not improve your chances of getting pregnant if your endometriosis is severe and that you may need additional fertility treatments. If you have had laparoscopy in the past and are not getting pregnant it’s time to see a reproductive endocrinologist.
Male Factor Problems
As many as 40 percent of all cases of infertility are due to a combination of male and female infertility issues or male factor infertility alone. A sperm test and physical exam is the basic step of infertility diagnosis for men. Many fertility centers have an andrology laboratory in addition to their embryology laboratory. If your male partner has fertility problems such as low sperm count, poor motility (movement) of his sperm, or abnormal morphology (shape), the fertility center may refer him for treatment to a urologist or andrologist, or they may have one on staff as part of their medical team. Diagnosis and treatment for both partners is essential when you are TTC.