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Dr. Alan B. Copperman
Your initial consultation with a Fertility Specialist can be a daunting and emotionally charged experience. To reduce uneasiness and maximize the value of your appointment, it’s helpful to gain insight on what to expect and how to prepare for it.
The first appointment is an opportunity to discuss family planning goals and for your team of fertility specialists to find out as much relevant information as possible about you. It’s a highly personalized and informative session designed to establish the treatment approach most likely to be successful for you.
Who will you meet?
You’ll first meet your fertility care team, which includes, doctors, nurses, coordinators, and financial specialists, and have the opportunity to ask them questions. You’ll meet your Fertility Specialist, also known as a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), who’ll discuss your medical history and make an assessment based on the information you provide.
Next, the cycle coordinator will assist in planning your cycle and will start you on your recommended testing or treatment plan. Your coordinator will order your medications, and your assigned nurse will act as your main contact during your treatment cycle.
You’ll also meet a financial coordinator, who’ll help you understand the estimated cost of treatment and the extent of any benefits and health care coverage you may have.
What should you ask?
At your appointment, you can discuss clinic success rates and talk about how they relate to your likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy. Your first consultation should help you confirm that you’ve chosen the most caring providers and program for your journey to parenthood.
The initial consultation also lets you explore available treatment options. These can include ovulation induction (enhances egg production),1 minimally invasive surgery (corrects/improves anatomical abnormalities),2 and intrauterine inseminations (increases sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg).3 Treatment may also include Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the form of in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is a treatment where the egg is fertilized outside of the body, but you still need the embryo to implant into the uterus and continue to grow.4 There are more fertility treatments than the ones outlined here, talk to your Reproductive Endocrinologist about what treatment options will be best for you. It’s important to note that there are risks associated with fertility treatment, such as mild cramping and abdominal pain, increased vaginal discharge, ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome, and others. Your team of specialists can help you to understand expected success rates for each option.
It’s important to feel comfortable in your choice of clinic and in the expertise of its fertility specialists.
What tests will you undergo?
Women will undergo an ultrasound examination to provide the Reproductive Endocrinologist a view of the ovaries and uterus, as well as blood work to ascertain hormone levels to assess ovarian reserve. Other tests might be needed for you or your partner, but the overall objective is to obtain an indication of the ability to produce eggs, patency of fallopian tubes and quality of sperm to ensure the highest likelihood of implantation and healthy pregnancy.
How to prepare for your first appointment
Having both partners present is recommended; this will help your team provide a testing and treatment plan tailored to maximizing your chances of successful conception and pregnancy.
Prepare for the appointment by completing necessary documentation and providing your medical history in advance of your meeting. Give as much information as possible so your physician can design a customized treatment plan. Many elements can affect fertility, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and excessive caffeine consumption.5,6 It’s important that your team understands your lifestyle so they can recommend the best possible course of treatment.
By their first fertility appointment, many couples experiencing fertility challenges have already been on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s entirely natural to feel emotional not only before the appointment but also during and after. Your fertility team is there to provide expert medical care as well as compassionate support throughout, so it’s important you share your emotions with them and possibly seek the guidance of a therapist who will counsel you and support you through the process.
Remember too, your first fertility appointment should be a source of hope. You’ve got a team of medical professionals committed to helping you work towards your dreams of having a family. You can find more resources on Fertility Lifelines that will help you navigate your first appointment and more.
About Dr. Copperman
Dr. Alan B. Copperman is Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility as well as the Vice-Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Copperman is a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and also serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York. Dr. Copperman is a paid consultant of EMD Serono.
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- ASRM, Medications for Inducing Ovulation. Published 03 16 2017. Accessed 04 25 2017.
- ASRM, Minimally Invasive Surgery, 2014. Accessed 04 25 2017.
- Mayo Clinic, Intrauterine insemination (IUI), Published 06 21 2016. Accessed 04 25 2017.
- SART, Assisted Reproductive Technologies, 2017. Accessed 04 25 2017.
- ASRM, Optimizing Male Infertility, 2012. Accessed 04 25 2017
- Weng X, Odouli R, Li DK. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008;198:279.e1-8.