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Infertility 101

Infertility 101. jpg.jpg

a blog by Traci Shahan, RN, WHNP-BC, Doctor of Nursing, Albrecht Women’s Care: A Center for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility February 15, 2011

I remember the words from my fertility doctor, “Infertility affects one out of six American couples.” At once, I felt relieved that I ostensibly had many of compeers as I went through fertility treatment, but I sure wished I had access to them so I could understand what I might go through as a patient.

In the intervening years, I have learned much both as a patient and professional. To that end, I offer below a thumbnail sketch of how to seek and advocate for the fertility care that best serves your needs.

When Do You Seek Help from a Fertility Doctor?

Generally, we in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI), recommend that a patient seek the care of a fertility doctor if she doesn’t conceive within 6 to 12 months of regular intercourse at the time she suspects she is ovulating.

Please note here that ovulation is best appraised retrospectively at 14 days prior to onset of menses if a patient is not using hormone testing to detect an LH surge. (Obviously, however, with human bodies and conditions, there are variables that affect ovulation and its timing.)

Where Do You Start?

So where do you start if you haven’t conceived in six to 12 months? An Ob/Gyn can perform basic testing and work-ups. A fertility doctor, also known as a reproductive endocrinologist is a physician trained rigorously in the field of fertility. Both types of doctors are critical in health maintenance, diagnostics, preconception counseling, conceiving, bearing a child and care after birth. For some women, such as those affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), long-term care by an RE is recommended.

How Do You Locate a Fertility Doctor?

Ask friends and acquaintances for referrals. Word-of-mouth remains the best way to get the kind of care that you want. In addition, online sites such as can supply rich veins of information. However, it is important to be discerning because there are many sites that are not moderated and may contain inaccurate information.

The bottom line: Decide what kind of care you want prior to seeking it. Ask yourself:

  • Do I want a large clinic that is bustling with people and staff, or do I prefer a smaller, more personal feel?
  • Do I wish to proceed assertively and quickly, which can translate into IVF sooner rather than later? Or do I wish to go more slowly, starting with artificial inseminations or timed intercourse after a work-up?

Obviously these are personal questions that only you can answer.

In the next blog I am going to continue Fertility 101 by examining the basic fertility work-up components. Until then, remember: You deserve the very best care available! Expect it, ask for it, and advocate for yourself and your family.

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