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When you are infertile, expect the unexpected  

In the fertility world, knowledge is power. Understanding the testing and diagnosis processes can help you advocate for yourself, process the test results, and make smarter decisions about the testing and treatment. Also, when you know what to expect during testing, you may feel less anxious about the tests. One way to get a better idea of what to expect is to ask your doctor.

Despite all these recommendations, many couples still do not seek a fertility evaluation. To be precise, up to two thirds of couples that have tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than a year still have not sought help. It may be understood why you may hesitate seeking help.

To ask for help is to admit that something may be wrong, and it’s likely to intensify your anxiety that you and your partner are fertility-challenged. Also, if you’re unsure whether or not you will want fertility treatments, you may think getting help isn’t worth the trouble.

But you need to be aware that waiting too long can backfire. There are some causes of infertility that worsen with age. If you have any symptoms of infertility earlier on, though, you don’t need to wait before speaking to your doctor. Some causes of infertility can be resolved without fertility drugs, so even if you’re sure you don’t want drugs, you may be treated in another way.

Besides all this, infertility can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious health problem, which needs to be resolved whether or not you decide in the end to seek fertility treatments. This is why it’s better to get tested now than to keep trying on your own.

After you’ve decided to seek help, you may be wondering who to call. Start with your gynecologist to get your basic history, some basic fertility testing, and refer you, if necessary, to a fertility specialist. If a semen analysis is required for your spouse or there are other signs or symptoms of male infertility, he might need to see a urologist.

While you wait to see the fertility doctor you may want to begin tracking your cycles, if you haven’t done so already. You’ll also need to know where you are in your cycles for certain fertility tests and tracking your cycle will help you schedule tests with more ease.

Sometimes certain basic fertility tests don’t need to be run. For example, if a semen analysis has found that IVF is required due to male factor infertility, it’s probably not necessary to check for blocked fallopian tubes.  This is a good reason to do a semen analysis before more invasive tests. Speaking of fertility testing, it’s essential that both you and your partner are tested.

The problem is that male infertility affects up to 50 percent of couples that are trying to conceive. Some couples are having male factor infertility as the sole issue while other couples are having combined male and female fertility problems.

Some fertility treatments have little chance of working if sperm counts are low. Also, if sperm counts are completely non-existent, treatments that are not taking these into account are doomed to failure.

Nobody likes fertility testing. But even worse is to go through treatments that cannot succeed due to undiagnosed issues.

The more you know about fertility treatment options, the better you’ll be able to make informed treatment decisions. For example, if you’re concerned about getting pregnant with multiples, you may just skip straight to IVF. Or if you need donor eggs, but don’t have the funds for the cost, you may want to consider donor embryos.

Complementary medicine that is meant to work alongside mainstream medicine may be something to consider when you’re trying to get pregnant. Many fertility treatment clinics are opening complementary medicine centers, so that you can get access to services such as acupuncture and Yoga in the same place as you are getting your ultrasounds and embryo transfers.

Acupuncture is particularly popular in exploiting a higher rate of pregnancy success when coupled with IVF. It is one method that you should try. As always, be sure to let your doctor know if you’re trying any alternative remedies, especially herbal or vitamin supplements. Some alternative treatments can interact with the normal functioning of fertility drugs, sometimes in dangerous ways. So just keep your well doctor informed.

The same argument goes for surrogacy. Few couples begin their journey to parenthood by saying they want someone else to carry a baby for them. However, surrogacy has helped many people build their family. You could also be a potential beneficiary.

When you don’t get pregnant as quickly as you expected, it’s normal to experience stress. Women with infertility experience similar levels of psychological stress as those who face chronic pain.

Strong social support during infertility treatment is critical, whether this support comes from your spouse, other family members, parents, or friends, it can have a protective effect against the negative health consequences of stress. Following fertility treatment, it can have an important positive impact on your mental health. Social support improves birth outcomes by lowering anxiety and stress as well as improving stress coping mechanisms.

So what can you do to ensure that you have the tangible, emotional, and informational support that you need? Start by communicating with your partner.  Talk about your concerns and ask for help when you need it. Lean on family and friends or join a group of couples undergoing treatment. It can be helpful to share your experience with other people who are currently going through the same thing.

Health concerns during infertility treatment are often so centered on taking care of your physical health that it is easy to overlook the importance of mental wellbeing. If you have a history of depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor about your concerns before you begin treatment.

Remember that you want to have a baby and that is your reason for hope. Most infertile couples eventually get to have their own baby after treatment and so will you. You may not have wanted to think about using an egg donor, sperm donor, or embryo donor when you just started treatment, and you may not be ready to consider it now either.

But just knowing it’s a possibility can help. Coping with infertility is not easy, just be sure to take good care of yourself. Reach out for support.


Abayomi Ajayi

MD/CEO Nordica Fertility Centre,

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