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Q&A: Getting Started with Fertility Treatments

You’ve been trying to get pregnant for months with no luck. Every month that goes by feels like an eternity and every period a disappointment. You’re missing precious time with your future baby-to-be and wondering: is it time to seek help and, if you do, what happens next?

This is a common scenario for our patients. Many wait years to see a specialist because they want to keep trying on their own, they are worried about cost, or they aren’t physically or mentally prepared for everything that may be involved with treatment.

We understand that the unknown possibilities of fertility treatments may seem really scary. to However, after going through treatment, 70% of our patients said they wish they started sooner. To help take the mystery out of the process, Dr. Channing Burks Chatmon answered four common questions she hears concerning fertility evaluation and receiving treatment for infertility.

When should I see a doctor?

As a general rule, you should see a doctor if you:

  • Are under the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for 12 months
  • Are over the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6 months

You should also talk to a doctor if you:

  • Have a known reproductive disorder such as endometriosis or PCOS
  • Have irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • Have a genetic condition that is known to affect fertility
  • Have been diagnosed with cancer
  • Have experienced two or more pregnancy losses

Can I get treatment for infertility from my OB/GYN?

Making an appointment with your gynecologist is a great first step. Your gynecologist can order a series of tests for you and your partner to determine fertility potential. Depending on the results of your evaluation, your gynecologist may offer common treatment options like making lifestyle changes or prescribing ovulation-stimulating medication to assist with conception. More often than not, though, they will refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in fertility treatments.

Does a referral to a fertility specialist mean I need IVF?

No, seeking out fertility treatment doesn’t necessarily mean IVF. Every patient’s journey is unique and your treatment plan will be tailored to your individual needs and wishes. Treatment options include:

  • Ovulation induction (often with oral medications)
  • IUI (Intrauterine insemination)
  • IVF
  • Surgery (to treat/remove uterine septum, polyps, uterine fibroids, fallopian tube blockage, remove endometriosis, or pelvic adhesions)

A fertility specialist will recommend a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. Your treatment plan will be determined based on your diagnosis, age, and personal goals. In some cases, you may start with one treatment, like IUI, and if that is unsuccessful, you and your provider will reevaluate your treatment plan to see if it’s time to try something else.

Will my insurance cover fertility treatment?

Insurance coverage varies based on your plan and where you live. Illinois is a mandated state, meaning state law requires insurance companies to provide coverage for diagnostic tests and treatment to those receiving insurance from an employer with more than 25 employees. If insurance doesn’t fully cover your treatment, there are financing plans and other financial resources available that may help with the cost.

Getting Started on Your Fertility Journey

If you have been struggling to get pregnant, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Even if you aren’t ready to start treatment, it never hurts to get the basic testing done to understand the fertility potential of you and your partner. And if you are the one in eight that is struggling with infertility, know that you are not alone and there is help available to grow your family.

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Dr. Channing Burks Chatmon is a reproductive endocrinologist and board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who is passionate about supporting and guiding patients with personalized and evidence-based treatment options to fulfill their dream of having a family.