On average, it takes around four to six months for a couple to get pregnant, but it can take up to 12 months. If you’ve been trying for longer than a year, and you’re becoming concerned about your ability to conceive, then it’s a good idea to book an appointment to see your GP, who will then refer you to a fertility specialist if they suspect or diagnose any fertility issues.

Here are a few general factors that you should typically consider before you (or your doctor) book an appointment with a fertility specialist:

  • You’ve had three or more miscarriages
  • You’re a woman under 35 and have been unable to get pregnant after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse
  • Your BMI is too high or too low
  • You ovulate irregularly and haven’t responded to previous drug treatment
  • As a couple, you have a known risk factor such as a history of genital diseases or infections like pelvic inflammatory disease or polycystic ovary syndrome
  • You or your partner have previously had chemotherapy
  • Your partner has a history of significant scrotal trauma, twisted testes or other sperm issues
  • You or your partner have a history of sexually transmitted infections
  • You’re a woman aged 38 or over

If one or more of the above points apply to you or your partner, then it’s highly advisable you seek advice from a medical professional.

Are there fertility specialists for both men and women?

A woman with fertility issues will usually be diagnosed by her primary physician, or she can be seen by a reproductive endocrinologist specialising in the treatment of hormonal disorders that affect reproduction. Depending on the kind of fertility issue involved, a woman might need to be referred to a reproductive surgeon to treat problems like endometriosis or tubal obstructions.

Men with fertility problems are best served by either a urologist or an andrologist. A urologist will examine the kidneys, bladder, urinary tract and male reproductive organs to try to spot any disorders or abnormalities. They’ll usually perform a semen analysis and check hormone levels and the quality of sperm.

An andrologist is a urologist who specialises solely in male reproductive issues.

Important questions to ask your fertility doctor

Whilst your fertility specialist will no doubt provide you with lots of information and treatment options, there are also a few questions you should consider asking, for your own peace of mind, and to get a sense of how things work.

  • What are our treatment options and what do they cost?
  • What are the success rates?
  • Could you put us in touch with former patients who’ve had similar treatments?
  • Does the doctor have a call-in time when we can bring up any questions or concerns?
  • Are there any payment plans?
  • Will we be seeing one doctor or several doctors throughout a treatment?

The internet is awash with fertility forums and symptom checkers and, whilst these can be extremely helpful, they’re no substitute for booking an appointment with your GP, or seeking advice from a fertility specialist. If you’re concerned about your fertility or have any worrying symptoms, we advise you book an appointment as soon as you can.

 

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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