Have you ever heard the quote “the journey of a million miles begins with a single step”? For couples having difficulty conceiving, taking the first step can be an overwhelming and intimidating idea. To help with this, here’s a complete rundown of what you can expect from your first fertility appointment.
Basically, the first appointment with your fertility specialist is an opportunity to investigate the reasons why you have been unable to conceive so far. The appointment will begin with a discussion with your specialist regarding medical history, sex life and lifestyle. Your specialist will then conduct a physical examination for both the female and male. Your specialist will also order a number of tests for you, including:
- Semen analysis to measures the number, movement (mobility), size and shape of the sperm, and the volume of the ejaculation. Sperm samples may be characterised as potentially fertile, sub-fertile, or infertile.
- Blood tests for both partners will monitor hormone levels, antibodies, HIV, hepatitis B & C, syphilis, blood group, rubella (German measles), and some genetic tests.
- Pelvic scan to allow your specialist to check the condition of your fallopian tubes and uterus using an internal ultrasound probe. You may also be referred to a radiology clinic for a more specialised scan or testing.
If you have already undergone these tests either with your GP or with another fertility clinic, your specialist will discuss these results with you.
Your specialist will use the above methods to evaluate your fertility based on the following five essential conditions required for pregnancy. These conditions include:
- The right balance of hormones to allow egg and sperm development and support
- A healthy, mature female egg and the ability to ovulate
- A good quantity and quality of male sperm
- A functioning reproductive tract (uterus and fallopian tubes)
- The ability of the female body to allow for implantation of an embryo, and to maintain and nourish that embryo.
Whilst the process of understanding your individual circumstances begins at your initial appointment, it may take two or three visits to the specialist to complete the necessary tests, and may take between one to six months to establish a diagnosis, depending on the complexity of your case.
In a follow-up appointment with your specialist, you can discuss which course of treatment is most suitable for you based on the information obtained in your first appointment and test results. The most common treatment options for infertility include:
- Timed intercourse and ovulation induction
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- In vitro fertilisation (IVF) with or without ICSI
- Gynaecological surgery to remedy underlying issues
If you’ve been having difficulty conceiving, the fertility specialists at Eve Health can help identify the underlying issues, and work with you to identify the best path forward.