I’ve been pretty open about our hope to have a second baby and how that just isn’t really going according to my plan. We have been trying for nearly three years now and can’t seem to make anything stick. One of the biggest pieces of advice I have received from others who have gone through fertility issues—and the one piece of advice I give now that I am in the thick of it—is don’t wait to go to the doctor.
Making that appointment is one of the hardest steps you will take. Whether it be the fear of the results of the tests, the out-of-control costs, or just a hope that “one more month will do the trick,” it is easy to put off. I told myself for way too long that I was just going to try one more time before I made that appointment.
And then I made three appointments, all of which I rescheduled within that second year of trying. I was afraid of what the doctor would tell me, of being turned away for my weight, and being written off as “not trying hard enough.” I finally went through with keeping an appointment, and it is as if a huge weight has been lifted.
I did a ton of research before going about what to expect and always ended up frustrated at the lack of information out there about the beginning stages of fertility testing and treatment. I wasn’t really prepared for my appointment, which was a huge reason I put it off for so long.
Before You Make Your First Fertility Appointment
I have a wonderful OB who gave me a few referrals for different doctors. If you trust your OBGYN, ask them for any specialists they work with directly. You will be making an appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist, most likely within a clinic specializing in fertility treatments.
- Do your research about your doctor. Check reviews, forums, and ask questions over the phone.
- If you are plus-size, check before your appointment if there are any BMI restrictions at the clinic you are interested in going to.
- Ask for initial consultation pricing and if the office takes any kind of insurance. Ask if a free phone consultation is an option before making an in-person appointment.
- Call you insurance provider to see if you have any coverage. Often times, diagnosis is covered, so you may be able to get your consult fee for just a copay.
- Track your cycle if you aren’t already—including BBT, cervical mucus, and using ovulation sticks.
- Most likely, your office will ask you to fill out an in-depth questionnaire and health history. If they don’t offer you to do this prior, ask! It will save you a good 20-30 minutes sitting in the waiting room.
What to Expect at Your First Fertility Appointment
I had so much stress and anxiety sitting in that waiting room. I had zero clue what was going to happen, and it made the few days leading up to my appointment really hard. I even considered not going that morning. I don’t understand why there is so much secrecy around it all.
Health History: You will most likely start your visit in your doctor’s office, not an exam room. You will chat through things like your family health history, your current health, and details about your partner. This is when you want to share that you have been charting and know what is going on with your cycle.
Physical Exam: You will do a standard urine sample, breast exam, blood pressure, etc. Depending on your doctor, you will also do a few blood tests, or they will send you out to a lab for that work. You will also most likely have a vaginal exam to check your cervix.
Ultrasound: I was diagnosed with PCOS years ago, but your doctor will want to check your ovaries and uterus to see if there could be any physical issues that are prohibiting you from getting pregnant.
Protocol Suggestion: You won’t have all of your test results back (your partner will also need to do some blood work and a semen analysis) but at this point, your doctor may give you a run-down of what they “expect” to start with. It is rare that anyone is going to need to jump right into IVF, but you could start with a few hormone drugs, a trigger shot, and possible IUI.
Take a deep breath. And another. You made the first move. This is one of the hardest things to do, and it takes a TON of emotional work to get yourself in that doctor’s office.
Make sure you think things over. If you didn’t feel good about your appointment, doctor, pricing, protocol, or anything else, please go and get a second opinion. There are a lot of doctors out there, and with something as sensitive as this, you should feel as comfortable talking to your doctor as you can.
Find a local support group. You might be surprised to find out that your city has a Facebook group for this, or even in-person meetings to chat with others in the same situation. Sometimes, knowing that you are not alone in this journey can be such a comfort.
I hope this post helps even one person who may be in similar shoes as myself. Please don’t wait if you are concerned. Feel free to comment or email me if you need someone to talk to!
This story originally appeared on Maddy Gutierrez’s blog on April 10, 2019.