1. Bring all your medical records. It’s great to send them to your new doc ahead of time. But I love it when patients have their paper records printed out and with them in a folder. This way I can flip through them and make sure I’m not missing anything. If you’re relying on another clinic to send things ahead of your visit, call before your visit to make sure they have arrived. Be Prepared!
2. Get tested! If you haven’t done the basic fertility work-up, get tested before your visit. After talking to your new doctor’s office, see if they will order hormone levels like fsh, estradiol and AMH , semen analysis and a tube test (hysterosalpingogram). Bring in as many puzzle pieces as possible to your appointment so your doc can put the puzzle pieces together in order to solve the puzzle about what may be going on.
3. Know when your last period started and approximately when you ovulate. I can tell you that when I’m going to do the first pelvic ultrasound on a patient it’s really helpful to me if a patient knows approximately when her period started. This way I have a good idea how things should look at that time. If having irregular cycles and not being able to pinpoint ovulation is an issue for you, be sure to tell your doc.
4. Know your family history: If and only if you feel comfortable doing so, ask your mom/sisters when they stopped having their periods, if there’s a family history of miscarriages, infertility, genetic diseases, cancers….knowing as much about your family history as possible will really help your doctor. I can tell you that if my 37 year old patient tells me that her mom went through menopause at the age of 43, it can really help me guide my patient about options to consider. If a patient knows that her sister needed IVF because of poor egg quality and endometriosis it will make me look very carefully at things to see if my patient has the same fertility factors.
5. Talk to your partner about coming to the first appointment with you. If you’re doing this on your own then bring a fertility friend (if you feel comfortable doing so). It’s nice to have another person in the room who is going to get the same information as you are at the same time. You’ll both hear what the doctor says so that when you’re discussing options you’ll be able to come up with your list of questions together and make a treatment decision together knowing that you’ve both heard the same information. Talk about what treatments you would consider together. I have patients that come in saying, “Dr. Aimee, IVF is off the table 100% for us.” It’s helpful for me to know what a patient is willing to consider as a treatment option. Or I have other patients who say, “insemination isn’t an option for us but we’d consider IVF.”
6. Just Breathe: Remember that your fertility doc wants you to succeed. When it comes to my approach: I believe in the fertility of every patient that walks through my door. I know that I can’t always help everyone achieve their goals the way they originally envisioned but with team work and a positive mental attitude I feel like I will always be able to give patients their very best chances of pregnancy offering them everything that science has to offer them today.
7. Ask Why: Bring your list of questions, take notes, and ask why your doctor thinks you’re having problems conceiving. Ask about treatment options, why the doc is recommending them, and chances of pregnancy associated with each option. Make sure you ask what your first appointment will include and how to best communicate with the office after you leave and when. First appointments with me typically last an hour, I make sure to review a patient’s medical history, allowing time for the patient to ask questions of me and I also
Hearing from a fertility specialist about your situation is the best way to learn what you can do to give yourself the best chance of pregnancy.