Infertility 101: The Basics From a Fertility Doctor

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and as a fertility doctor, my number one hope is to spread awareness regarding infertility and make sure anyone going through infertility knows they are not alone. Infertility does not discriminate, it does not matter your race, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic status, it can impact anyone. 

Let’s start a real conversation about infertility—because knowledge is power and we want to empower you to learn about your fertility and have the necessary knowledge to seek out the resources you may need. No one should have to suffer in silence or in shame about an infertility diagnosis and this is why we are talking about it, to empower you, and let you know you are not alone. 

Definition of infertility

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected, appropriately timed intercourse

Infertility Statistics

  • 1 in 8 couples has infertility
  • 1 in 4 women will suffer from a miscarriage
  • 5-10% of women have a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Up to 40% of women with endometriosis will suffer from infertility
  • 1/3 of infertility issues are related to male factor (men are impacted by infertility as well as women)

When should you see a doctor for infertility?

  • Women under the age of 35 who have been trying to conceive for 12 months or longer 
  • Women over the age of 35 who have been trying for 6 months or longer to conceive
  • If you have known medical issues that could impact your fertility such as PCOS, endometriosis, known male factor disorder, known uterine abnormalities or blocked fallopian tubes 

What to expect at your first visit

Your first visit to see a fertility doctor may be filled with anxiety and nervousness as you discover what may have been impacting your fertility as well as learning about all of the treatment options. One of the most important things to remember is that knowledge is power and the more information you have, the better you will be able to make decisions that impact your health and fertility. 

Basic fertility work-up

  • Assessment of your ovarian reserve including an ultrasound to count your antral follicles and blood work to assess your AMH and day 3 hormones including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol
  • Semen analysis to assess partner sperm 
  • Making sure you are ovulatory
  • Hysterosalpingogram to assess your uterus and fallopian tubes for abnormalities or blockages

Fertility treatment options

There are several fertility treatments that your doctors may discuss with you and ultimately the decision for what you choose will be based on your age, your individual risk factors, and your likelihood of success.

Your doctor may discuss with you the following options:

  • Continue to try on your own, although most fertility specialists will not recommend this as first-line treatment if you have been trying to conceive on your own
  • Oral medication for ovulation induction or superovulation with timed intercourse or in combination with intrauterine insemination
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF)

Infertility is an emotional journey and it will likely test you physically, emotionally, and mentally. But, we want you to know you are not alone. No one should have to suffer in silence if they are unable to have the family they desire. Our mission during National Infertility Awareness Week is to shine a light on the topic of infertility and miscarriage and make sure all individuals know they are not alone. Infertility is a disease, treatment is not elective and we are here for you. 

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