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Infertility: When Is It Time to See a Doctor?

November 17, 2020
Sarah Falcone RN

Starting a family is a goal for many couples. Unfortunately, one in ten couples may have some difficulty getting pregnant and require medical treatment. If you've been affected, you might be wondering about infertility: when is it time to see a doctor? My Virtual Physician has board certified physicians who specialize in infertility and are available for virtual doctor visits.

What is Infertility?

Infertility is a diagnosable medical condition in which a couple cannot conceive a pregnancy despite unprotected intercourse. It can be caused by many factors.

What Causes Infertility?

In women, most often, abnormal ovulation causes infertility. In men, usually problems with sperm cells, such as sperm count or function, cause difficulty conceiving.

Aside from these physiological causes, factors affecting a couple's fertility include their age, health status, and lifestyle factors such as stress, diet, or smoking.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who are overweight, underweight, or exercise too much may have difficulty getting pregnant, and men who are heavy drinkers or smoke marijuana since these are known to lower sperm count and movement.

In some cases, doctors cannot determine the cause and refer to these cases as unexplained infertility.

Infertility: When Is It Time to See a Doctor?

Generally, it is time to consult your physician about getting pregnant if you are under the age of 35 and have been unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sex. Women over the age of 35 and those who have irregular menstrual cycles or have known abnormalities with their reproductive system, should talk with their doctor much sooner, after six months.

Who Should See a Physician?

Infertility affects both people in the relationship. There is a 30% chance the infertility is related to male factors in a traditional couple, 30% related to female factors, and a 30% chance a combination of both factors. Therefore, anyone in the relationship may need to discuss options for starting a family. Here are some reasons to see a virtual doctor:

  • couples unable to conceive after twelve months of unprotected intercourse without birth control
  • women over 35
  • couples who have had two or more miscarriages
  • men who have difficulty maintaining an erection
  • women who have abnormal menstrual cycles (no periods, irregular periods, or heavy periods)
  • couples who have had sexually transmitted infections
  • women who have ever undergone chemotherapy treatment

What Should I Expect for Infertility Treatment?

When you consult your physician about infertility, you can expect that they will begin your care with a complete history and physical exam. They may order blood testing, urinalysis, hormone tests, or other diagnostics to check for abnormalities. It may be necessary to have your partner undergo an exam and diagnostic testing also. Your physician may order an ultrasound or an X-ray as well.

After all of the tests, you will meet with your physician to discuss the results and go over treatment options and recommendations. After you decide on the treatment plan that is best for you, you will receive support and guidance in your process to get pregnant.

What Can I Do About Infertility?

Medical treatment and new technologies can increase your chances of getting pregnant. One or both partners in a couple may undergo treatment.

Medication

Medications may be taken by mouth or injected. There are drug therapies for both men and women aimed at increasing egg production or sperm count. A list of medicines frequently prescribed for infertility treatment can be found here.

Surgical Treatment

In some cases, blockages, scar tissue, or abnormal growths require surgical intervention. Procedures may be laparoscopic: meaning performed through small incisions in the abdomen for a minimally-invasive procedure.

IVF and IUI

Today, the two most common infertility treatments are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

IUI is a procedure during which a physician injects sperm into the uterus at the ovulation time. This method is least invasive and most cost-effective but has lower success rates. The estimated success rate is 10-20% for a single cycle of IUI, but additional rounds increase chances, and in three to six cycles, the success rate is up to 80%.

IVF is a complicated procedure requiring surgical retrieval of a woman's eggs, fertilization in a laboratory, and then transferring the fertilized eggs back into the uterus. Women under the age of 35 can expect a 50% success rate for IVF treatment, but this process requires intense testing and monitoring and can cost $20,000 to $50,000.  

Connect with Our Board-Certified OB/GYN's

Starting a family can be challenging, and your physician may offer options to guide you through the process. Infertility is a medical condition that affects many couples, and there are treatments available.

Need to talk to a physician now? My Virtual Physician has Board-Certified OB/GYN's that are available for virtual doctor appointments and are able to answer any questions you have and guide you in the right direction. The online doctors at My Virtual Physician, not only address infertility and reproductive endocrinology, but also irregular periods and painful periods, and many more gynecological conditions.

If you still have questions or you would like to discuss your problem with our board-certified OB/GYN specialists, click below to schedule an appointment. My Virtual Physician treats conditions, including infertility, irregular periods, sexually transmitted infections, and more. If you have any suggestions for additional topics you want to read about, let us know! Don’t forget to check out our podcasts for more and follow us on social media.

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