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Even if you’re years off from wanting children, discussing your fertility with your primary care physician or OBGYN is a good idea. Being proactive and addressing your fertility concerns can help you make informed decisions and confidently navigate this phase of your life.

In this article, we’ll share some tools and knowledge necessary to empower yourself when discussing fertility-related matters with your doctor. By asking the right questions and advocating for yourself, you can ensure that your concerns are taken seriously and receive the support and guidance you deserve.

Educate yourself

Before your doctor's appointment, take the time to educate yourself about fertility and reproductive health. Familiarize yourself with the basics of female reproductive anatomy, menstrual cycles, and fertility potential. You can start by checking out our Learn section, which offers comprehensive information on fertility-related topics, including egg freezing, hormones, and more. 

Get some family history

You might also want to ask females in your family (your biological mother, older sisters, etc.) about their fertility experience. This will help you gain insight into any potential hereditary factors that could impact your own fertility. Their health history may be helpful for your provider to assess any genetic predispositions or conditions that may affect your fertility journey now or down the line.

Prepare ahead of time

Preparation is key to effective communication with your doctor. Make a list of questions or concerns you want to address during the appointment. This will help you stay focused and ensure that all important points are covered. Include specific questions about your fertility, potential testing or treatments, and the possibility of egg freezing. Think through your desired family-building timeline (if you have one) as this will play a role in determining the best next steps. 

Here are some questions you can consider asking:

  • Given my family-building timeline, what steps should I take now to give me the best chance of success down the line?
  • Are there any potential factors that could be affecting my fertility?
  • Are there any tests or evaluations that can help determine my fertility potential?
  • Based on my medical history, are there any specific concerns or conditions that may impact my fertility?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to optimize my fertility?
  • Are there any specific dietary recommendations or supplements that can support fertility?
  • Can you provide me with a referral to a fertility specialist or clinic if needed?
  • Are there any long-term contraceptive options that provide reliable protection while allowing flexibility for future plans?
  • Are there any factors in my medical history that might affect the choice of contraception or impact fertility in the future?
  • Can you provide guidance on resources or support groups for people who are planning to delay parenthood for a few years?

Seek a fertility specialist

If you feel like your OBGYN doesn’t have the necessary expertise in fertility, or you have a gut feeling you may have a fertility issue, consider seeking a referral to a fertility specialist. These specialists, often reproductive endocrinologists (REIs), have specialized knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating fertility issues. They can provide you with a more thorough evaluation and personalized advice.

Establish open communication

When speaking to your doctor, establish a comfortable and open line of communication. Explain your concerns clearly and concisely, emphasizing the importance of the topic to you. Use "I" statements to express your feelings and personal motivations for seeking fertility guidance. This approach helps create a more collaborative relationship with your doctor.

Some examples of these statements might include:

  • “I think I might want to have children someday, and I want to understand more about my fertility to make informed decisions about when to start trying to conceive.”
  • “I have a medical condition that could affect my fertility, and I would like to discuss the potential impact and/or treatment.”
  • “I am at an age where I feel a sense of urgency to explore my fertility options, because I don't want to experience challenges building my family down the line.” 
  • “I have a family history of reproductive issues, and I want to be proactive in understanding my own fertility health to prevent any potential complications in the future.”
  • “I'm considering delaying pregnancy for a few years due to personal or career reasons, but I'm concerned about how that might affect my fertility. Can you provide information on fertility preservation options?”
  • “I have irregular periods, and it's been challenging for me to track my ovulation. Can you help me understand my cycle better and provide advice on optimizing my fertility?”
  • “I've always had a strong desire to become a parent, and understanding my fertility is essential to fulfilling that dream. Can we discuss tests or assessments that can give me a clearer picture of my reproductive health?”

Remember, these are just examples, you should personalize your questions and comments based on your specific situation and concerns. Your OBGYN will appreciate your openness and willingness to discuss your fertility goals and worries. If your OBGYN is dismissive of these questions or concerns, it may be time to consider talking to another doctor. 

Share your medical history

Come prepared. Be ready to provide your doctor with a comprehensive medical history, including any previous or current reproductive health issues. What kind of birth control are you on? Have you had any STIs, miscarriages, or abortions? Knowing your cycle – if it’s regular or not – is vital information too. . The more information you provide the doctor, the better they will be able to understand your unique circumstances and tailor recommendations to suit your needs.

Discuss fertility testing

If you have concerns about your fertility, or are just curious about your ovarian reserve, ask about appropriate tests to assess your reproductive health. Understanding your fertility potential can help guide discussions about future family planning or the need for egg freezing.

Possible tests include:

  • Hormone level assessments: These are blood tests that measure hormone levels related to fertility. They can include assessments of anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones. These tests help evaluate ovarian function, the menstrual cycle, and potential hormonal imbalances that may affect fertility.
  • Pelvic ultrasounds: A pelvic ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the reproductive organs. It can help evaluate the health and condition of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This assessment can identify any structural abnormalities, such as fibroids, cysts, or polyps, that may impact fertility.
  • Semen analysis: A semen analysis is a test performed on a male partner to assess the quantity, quality, and movement of sperm. The analysis involves collecting a semen sample, which is then examined under a microscope. It evaluates sperm count, motility (movement), morphology (shape), and other factors that can affect male fertility.

Ask your doctor which tests make sense now, and which ones can wait until you’re ready to start trying.

Inquire about egg freezing

If you are considering egg freezing, approach the topic directly with your doctor. Ask about the process, success rates, potential risks, and the ideal age to consider this option. If you’re already chatting with an REI, seek information on the specific protocols followed at the clinic, including the number of eggs typically recommended for optimal chances of future conception. 

Read more in Questions to Ask Your Doctor at an Egg Freezing Consultation

If you’re curious to see if you qualify for Freeze by Co’s Split program — where you can freeze your eggs for free if you give half of the eggs retrieved to another family who can’t conceive — you can take our quiz here. Additionally, our self-pay Keep program allows women to freeze their eggs and keep them all for their future use, with partnerships and discounts to lighten the financial load of egg freezing and as access to our member community.

Request second opinions

If you feel your concerns are not adequately addressed or your doctor dismisses your fertility-related questions, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion. A different perspective may offer fresh insights and alternative treatment options that can better meet your needs.

Trust your gut

Lastly, trust your instincts. If you feel unheard, rushed, or dismissed during your appointment, it is crucial to advocate for yourself. Remember, you are an active participant in your own fertility journey, and your concerns and desires deserve attention and respect.

Summing it up

Remember, every individual's journey is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to family planning. Your doctor is a valuable resource who can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs. By opening up the lines of communication and actively participating in discussions about your fertility, you can embark on this phase of your life with confidence and peace of mind.

Taking control of your reproductive health and discussing fertility concerns or options like egg freezing with your doctor can be an empowering and transformative experience. With the right tools and a proactive mindset, you can ensure that your fertility journey is supported and guided by a healthcare professional who values your concerns and helps you make informed decisions about your reproductive future.

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