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Is it Time to See a Fertility Specialist? When to Take the First Step

It might seem overwhelming to think about getting started with fertility treatment. There are a lot of questions going through your mind that can be stressful and even anxiety provoking. It’s important to us to answer all of your questions, set your mind at ease, and make the process as straightforward as possible, so when you come for your first appointment there are no surprises. Here are some common questions patients have about getting started regarding fertility treatment.

Getting Started with Fertility Treatment

Q: What can I expect at the initial appointment if I haven’t had any previous fertility testing done?

The initial consult with your physician is a comprehensive evaluation of your history and medical records. The appointment typically lasts 45 to 90 minutes. During this visit, you will have the opportunity to have your questions answered and to participate in developing a plan for further evaluation and/or treatment. We strongly that encourage both partners attend this consult.

When you meet with your physician for the initial consult, he or she will outline a diagnostic plan—called a fertility work-up—that’s tailored specifically for you. This will help determine the cause of infertility. The testing is based on your gender, information provided in your medical history, and a physical examination. These tests are intended to address the following questions:

  • Am I ovulating?
  • Are my Fallopian tubes normal?
  • Is my uterus receptive to implantation?
  • Are the sperm normal in number and function?

Before you start treatment, it is critical to identify any potential obstacles to achieving a pregnancy. Once your physician establishes a diagnosis, he or she will design a treatment plan that best suits your individual needs.

Q: Does my husband (or male partner) need testing? What does that include?

A: Yes, absolutely. Male infertility accounts for 40 to 50 percent of infertility, making a semen analysis a vital part of the initial work-up.  Collecting a sperm sample can be done in private at home. We request he abstain from ejaculation for 3 to 5 days prior to the analysis to obtain the most accurate results. The results of the semen analysis, combined with the female fertility testing, will provide insight for a proper diagnosis and guide your personalized treatment protocol. Your physician will work closely with our on-staff urologists to co-manage patient care to help with treatment and any procedures that may be considered.

Q: What is the purpose of an HSG test and is it painful? What can I expect?

A:  The hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an x-ray test that examines the inside walls of the uterus and Fallopian tubes and is a part of the initial female fertility work-up. We perform an HSG for three primary reasons:

  • To see if the Fallopian tubes are open
  • To assess shape of the uterus
  • To confirm the uterine cavity is not affected by fibroids, polyps, or scar tissue

An HSG is typically only painful if a blockage of the Fallopian tubes is present. Talk with your doctor about taking an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen, 30 to 60 minutes before the procedure to prevent or reduce pain during the test. Our team of specialists will perform the exam at one of our 28 office locations and interpret the results.

Q:  Does my insurance cover the initial consultation and any fertility treatment?

A: Often times, yes. Ninety percent of patients have insurance coverage for their initial consultation and 70 percent will have some coverage for testing and/or treatment. Our financial counselors will investigate your benefits prior to, or soon after your initial consult, so you know what’s covered before you begin any testing or treatment. In the event you don’t have some insurance coverage, your financial counselor will provide you with alternate financial options, including discount options and our 100% refund guarantee for IVF or donor egg treatment. There are also financing options that allow patients to make monthly payments toward the cost of their treatment. Shady Grove Fertility is committed to making fertility treatment as affordable and accessible as possible.

Q: Are IUI and IVF the same thing?

A: No. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a lower-tech, more basic procedure where a concentrated specimen of washed sperm is placed in the uterus through a catheter. The procedure is done at your local Shady Grove Fertility office and takes a couple minutes. It is not painful and does not require any anesthesia.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where the ovaries are stimulated to grow multiple follicles that are removed directly from the ovary once they are of a certain size and maturity. Once the eggs are retrieved, fertilization occurs with the partner’s sperm to produce embryos. Five days later, an embryo is transferred back to the uterus.

At SGF we take a stepped-approach to treatment, often starting with more basic treatments. There are other parameters that may require a different treatment plan based on your age and diagnosis.

Watch: SGF’s New On-Demand Webinar, Low-Tech

Q: What are the side effects of fertility treatment?

A:  Side effects from fertility treatment are typically a result of the ovarian stimulation medication. Common side effects include bloating, minor cramping, and hormonal changes. The intensity and type of side effects, if any, will vary from patient to patient.

Q:  On average, how long does a fertility treatment cycle take?

A: Cycle length of time can vary depending on your treatment plan, but the average cycle takes about 6 to 8 weeks.

Q: How likely is it to have multiples when underdoing IVF or donor egg treatment?

A:  When undergoing IVF treatment, either with your own eggs or donated eggs, the risk of multiples increases with the number of embryos transferred. Shady Grove Fertility continues to be a national pioneer in the field, offering patients the option of elective single embryo transfer, known as eSET. eSET provides patients with a safe way to reduce the risk of multiples without compromising the chances of success by only transferring one high quality mature embryo. The rate of twins with eSET is less than 2 percent at our center. In the case of donor egg treatment, transferring two embryos increases the chances of multiples significantly to approximately 50 percent.


To learn more or to schedule an appointment with one of our Shady Grove Fertility physicians, call 1-877-971-7755 or fill out this brief form.

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