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When To Consider Fertility Treaments

Lori Ramsey


Wanting a baby and actually having a baby are often two very different things. There are a large number of women who suffer from infertitliy for one reason or another. Many of these women can find treatments to correct their infertility problems, while some may never overcome them. When to seek the help is the booming question.

Often times, when to seek the fertility treatments depends upon a woman's age and the opinion of her doctor. But, if a woman wants to take control of her situation, she can do so by first seeing an obstetrician (a doctor who specializes in the care of pregnant women) before she even starts trying to conceive. Taking this measure will evaluate and ensure she is in optimum health. This, of course, does not guarantee success right away. This simply acts as the spring board for the road to conception. Believe me, I know a lot of women (myself included) who became pregnant before ever seeing a doctor. But ideally, it's good practice to get a thorough exam before ever setting out on this road.

Once you begin the journey of hopeful conception, the best thing you can do is to start charting. Charting all your fertility signs can give clues into why you may not be conceiving right way. Chart your basal body temperature, cervical fluid and, if you are willing, your cervical position. This can indicate a number of potential problems, such as low estrogen, low progesterone, anovulation and thyroid problems, to name a few.

Most of the time, if you are under the age of 35, a doctor will not even begin any type of fertility treatment until you have tried to conceive for 1 year. Of course, depending upon how determined you are, you could potentially approach a doctor at 3 to 6 months should you suspect a problem. If you are between 35 and 40 years of age, a doctor will usually want you to try for a good 6 months. If you are over 40, a doctor will probably start testing and treatments as early as 3 months, if not right away.

There are many different fertility tests that can be run. Let's not forget the importance of the man's fertility workup either. About 50% of infertility are due to problems with the man. The obvious test for a man is a sperm count - it's a very simple procedure and it doesn't hurt! The woman is a different story. Usually when infertility is suspected, a man will have a fertility workup first, because it is least invasive. The testing and treatments for a woman vary, from doctor to doctor.

The woman's fertility workup usually begins with charting, which is why it's important to start off doing this in the first place. Hormone levels are then checked at various times during the cycle. The cervical fluid can be tested for ferning patterns - an indication of ovulation. Postcoital tests are performed to determine if the cervical fluid is friendly to the sperm. Ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, and hysterosalpinogram are other procedures that may be done fairly soon. If these don't pan out, surgical investigation is necessary. These include laparoscopy and hysteroscopy. Genetic counseling may be done as well. Once the doctor determines the problem, they can then start the necessary treatments.

An obstetrician will run a number of tests themselves, and see if the problem can be corrected easily. If they find that the first tests either show nothing, or show something of great magnitude, they may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist. They will do more extensive testing and treatments - usually and hopefully - resulting in pregnancy.

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