Regardless of where you are in the family building journey, there are many potential challenges to face. And sometimes making that first phone call can be scariest of all. We sat down with Julie Hunt and Dr. Rashmi Kudesia to discuss different ways to build your family, what the process might look like, and address common questions for those looking to start, or continue, their family building journey.
Infertility + Diagnosis: When should you see a fertility specialist?
Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples and the number increases when you include those in the LGBTQ+ community or choose to be a single parent by choice. Regardless of where you fall in the family building process, seeing a fertility specialist can help you plan and answer any questions around your future family.
Some reasons to see a fertility specialist might include:
- For those younger than 35, no conception after 12 months of trying
- For those older than 35, no conception after 6 months of trying
- If in a same-sex relationship or a single parent by choice
- If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, PCOS, endometriosis, irregular cycles, fibroids, sperm abnormalities, thyroid conditions, etc.
- If you’ve had difficulty carrying a pregnancy more than twice
- If you’re interested in fertility preservation
Even if none of the above applies to you but you are still stressed about becoming pregnant or your fertility overall, making an initial consultation can begin addressing any questions you might have.
Additionally, just as a reminder, if you’re a Progyny member, make sure to
- Call the number provided by your employer so you can connect with your dedicated Patient Care Advocate (PCA). During this call, we’ll better understand your family building needs as well as explain your Progyny benefit in detail.
- If you have specific clinical questions, your PCA may connect you with someone on our clinical care team who can provide in-depth clinical information.
- Use our Provider Search tool to find a fertility specialist in your area that meets your needs.
Initial Consultation + Different Types of Treatment: What treatment plan is right for me?
Before accessing fertility treatment, an intial consultation is needed to review one’s medical history and do some diagnostic testing. This can feel overwhelming, so we’ve broken down what to expect.
The main goal of the initial consultation is to receive the necessary information and understand what family building options are best for you. During this “information gathering” day, you will likely review and test the following:
- Your medical history. If you are able to send over any tests (fertility related or otherwise relevant) prior to your consultation, this can help the physician begin to understand your journey to this point.
- The basics of reproductive biology.
- Initial testing for a basic fertility evaluation. This can include looking at ovarian reserve, age, ovulation, tubal, or uterine issues, thyroid health, semen analysis, and more.
- The tests you/your partner go through will depend on their medical history and family building goals.
- A majority of tests can be done the day you are in for your initial consult.
During this meeting, it’s important to ask questions! There will be a lot of information at once, so having a list of questions can be helpful. Bringing a notebook, partner, friend, or loved one to take notes can also take the pressure off.
Once the consultation is completed, you and your doctor will discuss the various treatment options. Treatments can range from being prescribed fertility medication and timed intercourse, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), reciprocal IVF, surrogacy, adoption, and fertility preservation (this could be egg freezing or sperm freezing).
A reminder for Progyny members – most of these services are covered by your Progyny benefit. Call your dedicated PCA to learn about your specific coverage. The typical timeline for members from activating their benefit (initial onboarding call) to starting treatment is between 13-15 weeks. This can differ based on your clinic’s availability and your treatment plan. If you have any questions around this, be sure to ask your doctor as this can help manage your expectations.
Financing and Understanding Smart Cycles
One of the biggest barriers to treatment is the financial aspect. The cost of one round of IVF treatment can range from $15,000 to $20,000.
For those with the Progyny benefit, you have comprehensive coverage through Smart Cycles. The Smart Cycle bundles services that are performed during a treatment cycle so you and your doctor can make the best treatment plan for the best possible outcome, a single healthy baby. More details on what’s included is covered during the initial onboarding call with Progyny.
Whether you are a Progyny member or not, you will still have financial responsibility. This financial responsibility; will depend on your insurance plan (e.g. deductible, copayment, etc.). If you are unsure what out-of-pocket expenses you might have, ask your PCA and they can walk you through the expected cost based on your plan. This way you have all the information you need before starting treatment.
What can I do now to increase my chances of a successful pregnancy or fertility treatment?
Look at your diet and lifestyle habits — all of these can be empowering for men and women.
- The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to increase fertility rates. For this diet, looking at the type of food is more important than anything else. Prioritizing whole grains, fresh produce, plant protein, and fish are key.
- Beginning to take prenatal vitamins a few months before you hope to get pregnant can increase your chances of a successful conception. Supplements are another option to discuss with your physician.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Try getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
- Focus on your stress management and doing what you can to keep a clear headspace. Mediation, acupuncture, and yoga practice can be good for this.
When you’re looking to choose what changes you want to make, choose what is most engaging for you. Otherwise, any change will be hard to maintain.
I found out that my benefit will now be through Progyny and I’m midcycle or about to start, what happens now?
- If you find out midcycle that your employer has elected the Progyny benefit, reach out to your dedicated PCA to learn about the transition. Progyny works hard to make the transition as seamless and smooth a transition as possible — connecting with your PCA as soon as possible can help with this as they help navigate the transition based on where you are in treatment.
I’m overwhelmed finding a doctor I connect with. Do you have any advice?
- Finding a doctor you connect with is incredibly important. Fertility treatment, and all that goes into it, is incredibly personal and emotionally draining. Making sure you feel heard during appointments is a good indicator of fit.
- Progyny’s fertility clinic checklist can also help and prompt questions to ask yourself and your clinic. To search for doctors in Progyny’s Network, see here.
My husband and I are new to Progyny and was chatting with a friend who doesn’t have a fertility benefit. How can she get access to Progyny?
If you are not a Progyny member or have friends who are not Progyny members, we highly suggest directing them to Talk To HR. This resource is meant to help individuals feel empowered to bring the topic of fertility benefits to their HR and benefits team. Many times, employers don’t know what they don’t know. Advocating for yourself as you feel comfortable might be all it takes to get that conversation and education started at your company. Talk To HR is dedicated to advice on this discussion and also gives the option to submit an anonymous form where employees are looking for more information and increased coverage and benefits.
Progyny is always here to support you on your family building journey. For any further questions reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to check out resources at Progyny’s education page. If you are a Progyny member, reach out to your Patient Care Advocate. They are always available for any emotional support or fertility advice.