When should you see a fertility specialist?
In an insightful opening talk at the Fertility Show Africa, Dr Antonio Rodrigues – a reproductive medicine specialist and a founder and director of Medfem Fertility Clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa – answered one of the most common questions among couples who are trying to conceive but have not been able to achieve a pregnancy: ‘when should we see a fertility specialist’?
In this article, we share his answer and explain why you should not delay having a fertility specialist assess your situation if you are concerned about your fertility.
Couples who have been trying to conceive and have been unsuccessful often ask if they should first visit their GP or gynae, or if they should immediately seek assistance from a fertility specialist.
At Medfem Fertlity Clinic, we believe that if you are concerned about your fertility, you should take immediate steps to have your situation assessed.
This is especially important in cases of known fertility problems such as anovulation, tubal disease and severe male factor infertility, when immediate evaluation and treatment of infertility is warranted.
Anovulation is the failure of the ovary to release an egg over a period of time (generally more than 3 months) and is a cause of infertility in approximately 30% of fertility patients. Usually, women with anovulation will have irregular periods or they may not get their cycles at all. Tubal disease refers to a blockage of or damage to one or both of the fallopian tubes – which is also a common cause infertility that requires specialist treatment.
For women trying to conceive, a diagnosis of Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, as well as a history of pelvic infection disease (PID) or sexually transmitted diseases could also warrant seeking the expertise of a fertility specialist.
We also highly recommend proactive evaluation and treatment for women who are 40 years of age and older, because this age group has increased potential for significant loss of ovarian reserve.
If you have been trying to conceive for at least one year (or at least six months if you are older than 35), it’s also time to seek help from an expert.
For men, possible signs of infertility that could warrant seeing a specialist include chronic pain in the genital area or erectile dysfunction. Other indicators include previous sexually transmitted diseases, testicular surgery or trauma, and a history of mumps during teenage years, as well as lifestyle choices such as the use of anabolic steroids or gym supplements, a BMI of more than 30, and excessive smoking, alcohol use and drug abuse. Bear in mind that the exact cause of a sperm disorder can usually only be determined medically, because erections, intercourse and ejaculation will usually happen normally and the quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally seem normal to the naked eye.
Remember too that infertility is a medical condition that requires specialised medical expertise and specific medical treatment.
During your first consultation at Medfem Fertility Clinic, you will meet one of our fertility specialists, who will discuss with you your medical history, conduct a comprehensive infertility work up, advise you of the treatment options available, and start to plan your journey to parenthood.
What about my gynae or GP?
Your GP or gynae might be the first port of call when you are experiencing challenges when trying to conceive, especially if you have just started out on your fertility journey.
Certainly, a GP or gynae can ask the right questions about, for example, whether you are having regular cycles or problems with sexual performance; take a detailed medical history; look for obvious signs of endometriosis; and even run hormone or egg reserve tests as a starting point. However, given that fertility treatment is often time-sensitive, a referral to a fertility specialist is recommended sooner rather than later.
There are also so many possible causes of infertility in today’s modern world that there is really only one way to know what could be the cause of your specific and unique infertility challenge: a consultation with a fertility specialist with extensive experience, expertise and access to advanced technology.
What happens at a fertility clinic?
There are some misconceptions about fertility clinics that also delay couples’ decisions to see a fertility specialist. Many people think that when you go to a fertility clinic, you are going to get IVF, or in vitro fertilisation, treatment.
However, IVF is actually only one of a range of Assisted Reproductive Therapies (ART) that are available today to treat a wide range of different medical causes of infertility.
Regardless of which specific treatments you may require, a 30 – 60 minute initial consultation is your first step in any fertility treatment plan.
When you visit Medfem Fertility Clinic for your initial consultation, one of our highly qualified and experienced fertility specialists will:
* do an extensive review of your medical history
* perform a comprehensive fertility physical exam and blood tests.
Thorough, professional, and reliable infertility tests that have been interpreted by a qualified and experienced fertility specialist are crucial for an accurate diagnosis of the exact cause of your infertility challenges and to determine the precise treatment required.
Once the exact cause of your infertility challenges and the precise treatment required has been determined, your fertility specialist will explain to you the range of fertility treatment options available for your specific challenges as a couple, provide in-depth explanations and answers to all your questions and develop with you a personalised fertility treatment plan that fits you best.
Why Medfem Fertility Clinic?
The importance of making the right choice when selecting a fertility clinic cannot be overstated. Choosing the right clinic, that is properly accredited and offers qualified and experienced specialists; cutting-edge facilities; advanced technologies and a range of treatments to achieve leading success rates; will ensure the best chance of becoming pregnant.
Since the 1980’s, Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team has assisted couples struggling with infertility to experience the joy of parenthood, helping to bring more than 18,000 babies into the world.
Our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic believes in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone. It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey, so you will have a fond memory of feeling empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem Fertility Clinic family.
Located in close proximity to the Sandton MediClinic, the Medfem Fertility Clinic is a purpose-built medical and surgical facility. Our state-of-the-art clinic was opened in 1992 and combines consultation offices, exam rooms, laboratory facilities, a surgical suite and a specialist dedicated fertility pharmacy in one convenient location.
We offer the full spectrum of fertility treatments including in vitro fertilisation (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), assisted hatching, egg and sperm donation, gestational surrogacy, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), as well as more basic fertility procedures such as intrauterine inseminations (IUI). Weekly patient care meetings are held to review every treatment plan, ensuring your fertility journey is a well-coordinated, well-executed, holistic experience tailored to your unique situation.
We are committed and understanding team of medical professionals, who have the experience, knowledge and desire to provide you with the best chance of a successful outcome at the end of your fertility treatment.
If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
We look forward to meeting you!