Many factors and conditions cause infertility. While taking the first step may be stressful, the sooner you book an appointment, the sooner we can diagnose and treat issues preventing conception.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, it may be time to consult a fertility expert. Infertility is a disease of the male and/or female reproductive systems that prevents a pregnancy or live birth of a child. LGBTQ+ couples and individuals may require family-building treatments that fertility specialists can provide.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says a couple or individual should seek an evaluation and treatment from a fertility doctor if conception has not occurred after a year of frequent, unprotected intercourse when the woman is under the age of 35. If the woman is over 35 or the couple or individual have known or suspected problems affecting conception, that should be after six months of trying. Women over 40 years of age may warrant immediate evaluation by a fertility specialist.
Patients are both partners and participants in their treatment. It’s okay – and natural – to have many questions or concerns about procedures, costs or options. To help make the first visit a success, here’s what to expect and how to prepare for the first appointment.
What to expect on the first new patient appointment
If possible, your first visit should be attended by both partners, unless the person seeking treatment is single. During the initial visit at The Fertility Institute, patents will meet with one of our fertility nurses who will take vital signs and discuss relevant medical history. The patient(s) will then meet with one of our fertility doctors to discuss family building goals and possible treatment options.
Based on the patients’ history, age and how aggressively they wish to pursue treatment, our doctor will order a number of diagnostic tests to evaluate both partners. Because infertility may be the result of many different conditions, to get a better understanding of your individual condition, we may conduct a full fertility assessment. This may begin at the first new patient appointment but often is completed on a subsequent visit.
The fertility assessment will require comprehensive tests to evaluate possible causes of infertility. For a woman, these tests may include a hormonal evaluation and the examination of the physical integrity and structure of the fallopian tubes and uterus. For a man, a semen analysis may be required to determine male infertility and its cause. Our doctors use these test results – along with the patient’s goals, medical history and reproductive history – to customize recommended fertility treatment options.
Before this visit is complete, we ensure that all your questions are answered and that you understand all of your treatment options. You will also meet with the support staff members who will help manage your care.
We understand that the decision to pursue fertility treatment is deeply personal and stressful. We guide patients with patience through all their questions and treatment options.
Fertility treatment financing options
While our medical team develops a unique infertility treatment plan for each patient, our financial counselor helps patients understand costs and financing options that are right for them. During your appointment a financial counselor will review the costs associated with treatments, any insurance benefits you may have, and financing and discount options.
Preparing for a new patient appointment
To make the most of the initial consultation, we recommend preparing for the discussion and meeting in advance. Here are some items to bring/consider:
- Review your policy to determine specific insurance coverage (if any) for fertility treatment.
- Connect with your insurance carrier to find out whether your policy requires a referral or preauthorization for coverage.
- Bring your insurance cards and a form of identification to the appointment.
- Bring copies of your medical records and test results.
- Make a list of any medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you take. Include the doses and how often you take them.
- Document details about attempts to get pregnant, including how long you’ve been trying, how often you’ve had intercourse and any outcomes (see below).
Questions new patients should be prepared to answer
We will ask different questions appropriate for different couples and individuals. Our patients are heterosexual and LGBTQ+ couples, as well as single individuals with varying gender identifications wanting to start a family.
Be prepared to talk about details of how you have been trying to get pregnant and if you have attempted fertility treatment before. Our doctor may ask some of the following questions, as appropriate for the patient(s), to determine next steps in making a diagnosis and starting care.
- How long have you been actively trying to get pregnant?
- How frequently do you have intercourse?
- Are you planning to use an anonymous sperm or egg donor?
- Who is planning to carry the pregnancy (for lesbian couples)?
- Do you know which partner will provide the sperm for fertilization (for gay male couples)?
- Do you/partner smoke, use alcohol or take recreational drugs?
- Are you/partner exposed through work or lifestyle habits to chemicals, pesticides, radiation or lead?
- Have you or your partner conceived a child together or with any previous partners?
- At what age did the female, or transgender man, partner start menstruating?
- What are cycles typically like?
- Are you charting menstrual cycles or testing for ovulation? For how many cycles?
- Do you/partner eat well and exercise regularly?
Questions to ask a fertility doctor during a new patient appointment
Questions are common (and encouraged) during appointments, and our doctors want patients to fully understand the details of their care. Keep a list of any questions and bring them to the first appointment. It can be helpful to list the most important questions first in case time runs short.
In most cases, many of the questions you have or that are included below will be answered by your providers in the course of the new patient appointment. Not sure what to ask our fertility specialists? Here are some basic questions to consider:
- What tests will I/we need before treatment?
- What treatment do you recommend trying first?
- Do you have recommended egg or sperm donor agencies?
- What side effects are associated with the treatment you’re recommending?
- For how many cycles will we try this treatment?
- If the first treatment doesn’t work, what will you recommend trying next?
- Are there any long-term complications associated with this or other infertility treatments?
- Who will I be able to contact during the process if I have questions (and how best to reach them)?
- Will I have access to a patient portal?
Learn about undergoing treatment
In a series of videos, Dr. Warren Huber explains what to expect during fertility treatment, including IVF & IUI, at The Fertility Institute of New Orleans.