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What the Doctor Does to Evaluate the Infertile Couple

Jessica Evert, MD, edited by Benjamin McDonald, MD Updated: Jun 28th 2016

When the tips described above don't help, and a year (or six months, depending on your age) has gone by without conception, then you and your partner are considered to have an infertility problem. Keep in mind that even though you may feel alone in the world with this issue, you are most certainly not alone.

doctor talking to patientOnce the label "infertility" fits your situation, it is time to consult with an infertility doctor. Check with your insurance carrier for names of physicians who have expertise in infertility medicine (sometimes referred to as "Reproductive Endocrinology"). You can also ask your OB/GYN doctor for recommendations. You may not have to actually see a new doctor as many OB/GYNs have special training in this area.

Because you are likely feeling devastated, it may be difficult to muster the energy to start the infertility treatment process. However, seeking medical consultation sooner rather than later can allow you to begin taking advantage of any assistance that doctors can provide.

Because of the multiple causes of infertility discussed previously, doctors will conduct a variety of tests and evaluations. Often these procedures may seem embarrassing or uncomfortable. Discussion will involve personal details, such as the timing and frequency of sexual intercourse, monitoring of vaginal secretions, and the like. It is important to approach the interactions with doctors and medical personnel with honesty and openness. This honesty will allow doctors to better understand the problem, and tailor your medical care to meet your needs.

What to expect at the doctor's office:

First, the doctor will conduct a thorough interview of you and your partner. The doctor will want to know how often you have a period, if it happens at regular intervals, and if you have ever had any problems with your reproductive system. The doctor will ask for a health history for both you and your partner, including any history of sexually transmitted illnesses (STI's). Sexually Transmitted Illnesses can cause damage that can lead to infertility. Again, it is important to be honest with the medical provider about a history of gonorrhea, chlamydia, or other STI's. The doctor will also want to know if either of you have had exposure to large amounts of radiation. In addition, the interview will involve a sexual history, including the frequency and timing of sex. It is important to document or otherwise remember the time frame of sexual intercourse in relation to your period. In general, women with 28 day cycles are most likely to get pregnant when intercourse occurs 13 to 15 days after the first day of their period.

Your accurate responses to medical history questions will help doctors to select specific and relevant tests to help understand what is causing your infertility. Many of the tests used to evaluate various contributors to infertility are described below.


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