For women and couples with fertility issues, there are many issues to consider prior to initiation of investigation and treatment. The first step is the realization that natural conception attempts are not working, and the willingness to seek medical advice. This first step alone can be stressful- guilt, blame, frustration, sadness, anger and isolation are just some of the emotional responses to this situation.
Once one has made the decision to seek treatment, it is important to prepare yourself in many ways. Educational resources, including web and print based information, in advance of your consultation with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility specialist), can be very empowering, and allow you to gain better perspective on testing and treatments. Preliminary contact with your insurance company can also increase awareness of financial issues, which are also an important part of your preparation. Picking the right fertility specialist is also important, since he or she will play a crucial role in your goal of having a child. Fertility practice and general fertility informational websites are helpful, as are insurance panels, recommendations form your OB/GYN or other medical provider, and personal recommendations from friend and family members who have gone through treatments.
Preparing oneself physically is also an important part of the preconceptual phase prior to fertility treatment. Obesity can be a significant barrier to contraception, and weight loss in combination with a healthy balanced diet and exercise can improve treatment outcomes and lessen pregnancy complications. Avoiding excess alcohol, cigarette smoking and recreational drug use is also critical to success. Medical issues, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, depression and other conditions should be well-controlled prior to treatment. Prior consultation with your internist, OB/GYN, perinatologist (High Risk OB) or other specialists may be helpful to define any potential issues that might impact on treatment success and/or potential pregnancy complications.
Many adjunctive or complementary treatments have also been shown to increase success rates with fertility treatments and may be helpful preconceptually. Acupuncture, meditation, yoga, reike, reflexology, massage therapy, aroma therapy and herbal treatments are just some of these approaches. Stress reduction with counseling and other Mind-Body approaches may also be beneficial.
At your visit with your Reproductive Endocrinologist, a full history and physical is usually performed, generally in combination with ultrasound testing and blood work. This will empower your physician to make appropriate recommendations for additional investigations and treatment. The type of treatment will depend on your individual needs. Whether the recommendation is oral medication, injections, insemination, surgery, In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or other treatments, the decision will be based on a treatment plan that is right for you, and in which you are able to be an integral part of any decision regarding treatment.
The journey of infertility can be a difficult road. Thankfully there are excellent treatments, and with timely intervention and attention to physical, emotional and financial concerns, success can be achieved in the vast majority of cases. Preparation for these treatments is critical and to the extent that one is fully prepared for treatment, the treatment success can be maximized to facilitate your dream of having a child.