One of the most distressing comments I hear regularly in my office: Dr. Kristiansen, I cannot believe I waited so long to seek help getting pregnant. Now that so much time has passed, I hope I can still get pregnant!
Why am I writing about this? Because we know from studies that a big percentage of men and women avoid seeking fertility treatment because they're afraid. If you've already taken that big first step of scheduling a fertility consultation, you know exactly what I mean. People who are starting to worry about why they haven't gotten pregnant scour the Internet for reasons and solutions, and what they see can scare them away from the very thing that could result in pregnancy.
Here's what I want them to know: An initial consultation with a fertility specialist does not equate to treatment, but it can often add up to more informed women and men who go on to get it right, with or without treatment.
What are they afraid of? Intimacy issues Who wants an audience to be in on your private dreams of building a family? It's hard enough to discuss with loved ones, but talking to a professional can make you feel even more uncomfortable. Fortunately, I can tell you that my staff at Houston Fertility Center are all long-timers in this medical arena. We understand, in some cases from personal experience, the emotional discomfort that you're going through. Your concerns are treated with utmost dignity and discretion.
Medical procedures Most fertility patients are of average health and have never gone through any kind of treatment process beyond an occasional round of antibiotics for infection. It's understandable that virtually any medical tests or treatments might seem scary. Many are under the mistaken impression that IVF is the only kind of treatment. Again, simply talking with a fertility specialist does not necessarily include any tests or procedures. That said, a lot of first-time patients do agree that scheduling their initial consultation on Day 3 of the woman's cycle, and undergoing a simple blood draw to determine levels of reproductive hormones, can save time and money in the getting-pregnant process. It's your choice.
Financial costs It's true that once you decide to become a fertility patient, there will be some costs involved. The financial expenses will vary from patient to patient, depending on health care coverage (or not) and on the causes that are determined to be your own fertility obstacle. Treatment costs vary widely and, actually, most patients do not need IVF to get pregnant. The majority of patients can become pregnant with less costly forms of treatment, like IUI (intrauterine insemination). (I'll address the differences in an upcoming blogpost.) But no one can tell you what your costs will be until thorough diagnostics have been implemented, and you have had a chance to discuss the options.
The important point:There's no way that your research alone or even any online-only consultations can adequately review and assess your fertility status and sum up whatever issues might need to be addressed for you to get pregnant.
Don't let fear of the unknown be your own major obstacle to getting pregnant.