While starting out on a fertility journey may be exciting, it can also be nerve-wracking for first timers. What happens at an initial consultation? How should you prepare? We spoke to CCRM Houston’s Beth Zhou, MD, to help break down some helpful tips and information for those starting out on their fertility journeys!
When would someone see an REI for an initial consultation?
There are so many reasons to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI). The most common types of patients we see are heterosexual couples who have not conceived after having unprotected intercourse for over a year. However, there are several circumstances for which couples should see an REI sooner, such as:
- If you are over the age of 35
- If you have experienced multiple miscarriages
- If you or your partner have significant medical problems that you think may be interfering with your ability to conceive
- If you have irregular menstrual cycles
- If you have heavy bleeding, irregular bleeding, or painful periods/intercourse
- If the male partner has significant erectile or ejaculatory dysfunction
If having a biologically related child is important to you but you are planning to delay starting a family, an REI can help you understand the process of egg freezing for fertility preservation. People facing major medical treatments that can hinder their ability to conceive, such as chemotherapy or major surgeries, should also seek out an REI to freeze their eggs/sperm. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community should also consider freezing their eggs/sperm, ideally before surgery or hormonal therapy. Similarly, same sex couples who will require an egg or sperm donor and/or gestational carrier should not hesitate to schedule a consult to learn more about their options.
What can one expect at their initial consultation?
Your first visit with the REI is a fact-finding mission for both you and your physician. The physician will ask for detailed, pertinent information from you about your situation, including your medical history, to be able to assess what the best treatment would be. You will, in turn, learn more about your diagnosis and your treatment.
Which tests will be performed?
Sometimes, additional testing will be needed, including bloodwork and potentially a pelvic ultrasound. The ultrasound may be a little uncomfortable. Every clinic is a little different about what testing is done the same day as your appointment, so please feel comfortable asking the staff ahead of time what will be done that day. The goal is that after the visit, you start to have the tools and understanding you need in order to decide which treatment option is the best for you.
What info/documentation should someone bring beforehand?
Please bring any testing or treatment results that you may have done elsewhere. If you have any medical conditions you think are pertinent, please bring these records as well. If available, please also try to obtain details about your family history, especially as it relates to trying to conceive and any genetic conditions.
How long does it take for results to come back?
Most blood test results will come back within a few days. Some tests, especially genetic testing, can take several weeks. Semen analyses can also take up to a week in some clinics.
How can someone get started on their fertility journey?
A good place to start is to look for fellowship-trained reproductive endocrinologists that are in-network with your insurance — Progyny patients have access to nearly 1,000 in-network physicians nationwide to choose from. If comfortable, seek out friends and family members who may have gone through a similar journey to ask their advice or recommendations. Some people may want to interview multiple REIs before they find a physician/clinic that is the best fit for them. Progyny patients can call their dedicated Patient Care Advocate to learn more.