When to ask for help trying to conceive

When to ask for help trying to conceive

Sometimes pregnancy doesn’t happen naturally—but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen at all. Reaching out to a doctor can help you determine the cause of infertility and begin treatments that may help you become pregnant in the future.

When women should seek help

Increasing maternal age has a strong impact on fertility. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances of having a baby may be.

You should talk to a doctor about your pregnancy challenges if: 

35 Age Graphic

You may also want to seek help if you have experienced: 

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Two or more miscarriages
  • An intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Endometriosis or painful menstruation
  • Breast discharge
  • Excessive acne or hirsutism (male-pattern hair growth in women)
  • No periods after using contraceptives
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pelvic/genital infections
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Reversal of surgical sterilization
  • Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy

When men should seek help

Although age plays a much more important role for women, a man’s fertility also declines with age. While men can often father children later in life, those 40 or older are more likely to have problems conceiving. 

It can help to speak to a doctor if you’re concerned about your age or medical history. You should also seek help if you have or have had: 

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pelvic/genital infections
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Reversal of surgical sterilization
  • Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Mumps after puberty
  • Urologic surgery
  • Prostate infection

4 types of doctors you can talk to about fertility challenges

Family doctor

Sometimes called primary care providers, or PCPs, family doctors are trained to provide first-line care to patients of any age and gender, with any health condition.

Family doctors may perform basic fertility tests or refer you to a fertility specialist, depending on when you started trying to conceive.

Gynecologist/OBGYN

A gynecologist provides routine physical care for the female reproductive system and treats diseases of the female reproductive organs. Many gynecologists are also obstetricians—called OBGYNs—who specialize in pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Gynecologists and OBGYNs can perform limited fertility tests for women.

Urologist/andrologist

Urologists provide treatment and care for the male urinary system and reproductive organs, while andrologists specialize in diseases of the male reproductive system. 

These doctors can perform more advanced fertility tests for males.

Reproductive endocrinologist

These specialists, also called REs, are trained in the diagnosis and advanced treatment of infertility for males and females. They also provide fertility preservation care to help maintain a person’s ability to have children.

REs are more knowledgeable in fertility medicine, procedures, and surgeries than OBGYNs, and can carefully assess your situation and work with you to plan possible treatments.

Did you know

In the US, 6.7 million women face fertility challenges 

Where you start is up to you. Some people feel more comfortable speaking to their family doctor first, who can then refer them to a male or female reproductive health specialist for some simple fertility tests. 

Others may begin with or be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist, who has the ability to perform more advanced fertility tests for both genders, and can guide you through any treatment you may need.

In the know: Fertility and your Jewish faith

An easy to understand look into fertility, plus resources and tools to help you along your journey to parenthood. 

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