I'm going to tell you something that you probably haven't heard from anyone else.
Remember how everyone tells you that you need to try for a year to get pregnant before seeing a fertility specialist?
This is a lie.
My husband and I were trying to get pregnant for five years before we finally saw a fertility doctor. Five years of timed intercourse, followed by two weeks of hope, followed by the inevitable visit from Aunt Flo. Every. Single. Month.
We tried things like acupuncture, vitamins, diets, and chiropractic care. We met with so many herbalists and Chinese medicine therapists. We asked our families to pray for us. And we still couldn’t get pregnant.
Seeing a fertility doctor (also known as a reproductive endocrinologist, or sometimes called an IVF doctor) is often seen as an end-of-the-road option. Once we’ve exhausted all of our options, I thought, we can finally see a fertility specialist. I was in my early 20’s and had plenty of fertile years ahead of me. I shouldn't be seeing a specialist... Right?
There’s a stigma that seeing a fertility specialist is the last resort option. Some think it’s a service reserved for individuals and couples who have exhausted all of their options. One might imagine the waiting room of a fertility clinic filled with older couples nearing the menopausal finish line.
Do me a favor and get this idea out of your head. Fertility specialists see a range of patients: the young and old and in between, the newly-trying-to-get-pregnant and the trying-for-a-decade-to-get-pregnant, and even patients who AREN’T trying to get pregnant, like patients who are interested in preserving their fertility for the future, or patients who have issues that stem from reproductive organs. As someone who has endometriosis, fertility specialists are especially equipped to help me manage this disease. PCOS patients and others with reproductive system-related issues would benefit from seeing a fertility specialist.
There’s also the idea that you must have had a year of “trying” before seeing a fertility specialist. (In this case, a year of trying would mean having regular, unprotected intercourse with no conception occurring in that time). This is also not true! If you feel you have a problem conceiving, you need to see someone.
Additionally, there could be other factors relating to your fertility that could warrant a sooner visit. For example, if you are over 35 and recently started trying to become pregnant, or if your cycles have recently become irregular during the time frame you are trying to conceive.
You have the right to see a fertility specialist. Please don’t let anyone tell you that it’s “too early” to see one, or that you haven’t been trying long enough to warrant a visit.
You do not need to earn your way to see a fertility specialist. You do not need to come to a fertility doctor exhausted after trying every trick in the book to conceive. Fertility specialists don’t have to be last resort options. They are experts in the female and male reproductive systems. Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist if you feel like you need to speak to an expert in this area.
Reasons you might need to see a fertility specialist sooner than “a year of trying”:
You have a diagnosable disease, like endometriosis or PCOS, that has the potential to interfere with your future fertility.
You are over the age of 35 and have been trying for a few months to get pregnant.
You have recurring miscarriages.
You have no interest in becoming pregnant now but have an interest in preserving fertility for the future.
You have been able to get pregnant in the past but are having unusual difficulties this time around.
You are newly trying to conceive and want professional advice about your fertility and trying to get pregnant.
You have a medical concern that could affect your fertility (for example, if you are going through chemotherapy treatment and want to know how your fertility could be affected).
You would like to become a surrogate or egg donor for another individual or couple and want to have a fertility check-up.