Making a booking to see a fertility clinic takes courage. It is often a decision that is the result of a series of frustrations and disappointments. The good news is that you’ll soon be partnering with a team of experts that have successfully helped thousands of mothers bring babies safely into this world. You are in good hands, and you have every reason to feel positive about it.
So what happens next? Here is a list of things to ask, research or think about before your first appointment with a fertility specialist.
Recap your fertility history
It is easy for important details to get forgotten in a consultation. So plan ahead and jot down key points that you would like to share, or will most likely be asked about. This could include things like the regularity and frequency of your menstrual cycle, the age at which you first started menstruating, methods of birth control used, successful pregnancies, miscarriages and any chronic conditions. The more your fertility team knows about you, the better placed they will be to find a positive solution.
Research your family’s fertility history
This may involve a few phone calls to your mother, sister, aunt and grandmother. But it is important to find out if there is a history of fertility challenges in the family, like low ovarian reserve, endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome. You might be surprised at what you learn when you ask the women in your family to share.
Write a list of questions
This is your appointment, your journey. If there is anything you’re unsure of, just ask. Here are some thought starters:
- Is there anything I can do in preparation for treatment, be it supplements, exercise, a change in specific lifestyle habits, etc.
- What are the different treatment options? There are numerous fertility treatment solutions available including Artificial Insemination (AI) – also known as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Natural Cycle in vitro fertilisation (IVF), Reciprocal in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Natural Cycle, and Mild (or Natural) in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to name a few. Your fertility team will explain the treatments and what they entail.
- Understanding fertility treatment success rates. Success rates aren’t straightforward. There are different success rates for different treatments. For example, the IVF success rates using donor eggs will be different to Natural IVF success rates.
- What are my next steps? You may need to have your calendar handy as your team will most likely need to carry out a series of tests to get a full understanding of your, and your partner’s body, to customise a fertility treatment programme for you.
Bring your partner with you to the appointment
This is an exciting time and it is important to share it with your partner, or if you are flying solo, invite someone you trust to join you. It is always good to have a cheerleader at your side.
Talk about the money, honey
It is so much more exciting talking about the prospect of falling pregnant and having a baby than it is to discuss paying the bills. But money is an important conversation to have. Naturally, being your first appointment, no treatment plan will have been identified yet, but you do need to have a clear understanding of what sort of a figure you will be looking at. Now is a good time to find out if the fertility clinic you’re meeting with offers an all-inclusive rate. Also, chat to your medical scheme to see if they cover fertility treatments and if they do, get the specifics of what is or isn’t included in this assistance.
After the consultation
One of the most important things you and your partner should reflect on is ‘did the team feel like a good fit?’ Experienced specialists, good success rates, the latest technology and research, should be a given. But what about the human element? Making a baby requires trust, respect, sensitivity and support. It is vital that you feel comfortable, relaxed and in good hands.
Allow yourself to dream
There is an old saying that wherever there are babies involved, there are tears. Tears of joy, tears of despair, tears of relief, tears of love. So chin up and be positive. By making your first appointment you have already significantly improved your chances of starting a family. You have every reason to dream. Good luck.