Make those fertility doc visits pay off ― ask the right questions! This is what you need to know…

Some couples finding starting a family literally a very trying time (pun intended). After all, it’s sadly possible to have regular cycles, be free of risk factors, including any Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and still be infertile.

But before you see a fertility expert — usually an obstetrician-gynaecologist for women and a urologist for the guys — you should try for at least a year before you get tested for possible infertility. This rule applies to couples below age 35. If you’re older, try for at least six months before seeking help.

Now, if you and your spouse longer than that without striking gold, then its time to get prepped for your consultation. Fertility expert and senior consultant ob-gyn, Dr Peter Chew and SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong have advice for you:

* Come as a couple Dr Chong stresses, “It takes two people to get pregnant. So, it is crucial you both come as a couple for consultations.” To get to the bottom of your problems conceiving, there will be a need to assess, examine and counsel both parties.

* Don’t visit if this is happening down there If you are menstruating, Dr Chong advises that you reschedule your appointment. For some subsequent appointments ― especially the guys ― you may need to practise abstinence of at least three days for the purpose of sperm tests.

* Prepare to ask and be asked questions No matter how shy you may feel to open up about your difficulties between the sheets, Dr Chew says you should actively ask questions relating to diagnosis, investigations, treatments and cost.

“It takes two people to get pregnant. So, it is crucial you both come as a couple for consultations.”

* Bring your prior medical records If this isn’t the first time you are consulting the doctor, bringing your entire medical history will allow the experts to better understand and diagnose your condition. Remember: Bring everything ― you wouldn’t know if your infertility is caused by a pre-existing condition. So, it’s best to get it checked!

* Menstrual charts Keeping track of your ovulation patterns gives you a clearer picture of the state of your fertility. Dr Chew advises you to take note of the exact dates of your last menstrual cycle, and preferably, the days you ovulate.

* Somethings may feel uncomfortable Sometimes, as part of the treatment, your doctor may ask that you undergo a comprehensive examination. Dr Chew stresses that these tests may include a pelvic examination, which may be a little uncomfortable. So, come prepared and don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or ask questions.


Now that you’ve prepped yourself for the visit, Dr Chong and Dr Chew share useful questions you should ask your doc…

For women…

* What is your preliminary diagnosis? How long will it take to diagnose the problem?

* When should you have intercourse to conceive? Ovulation trackers aside, you should clarify what physiological signs to look out for that signal it’s the optimum time to do the deed.

* How can I improve my chances of getting pregnant? Any lifestyle changes that may help my chances? Lifestyle choicesdiet and exercise — are the biggest influences on your chances of conceiving. These questions will allow you to take note of any changes to be made.

* What tests will you do? Are they surgical in nature? Are there risks? How much will these cost? Take note of the name of the tests and do some research. Better yet, ask the doc to explain them to you.

* Will the medication be harmful? Are there side-effects I should be aware of? Do let your doctor know if you are on any meds as this will prevent any harmful interactions.

* Any special positions my hubby and I should try? In the case of a retroverted uterus — where the uterus points towards the rectum instead of towards the belly — Dr Chong points out that it may help to lie on your tummy after intercourse.

* How many cycles of treatment would you recommend before we try another option?

In the case of a retroverted uterus — where the uterus points towards the rectum instead of towards the belly — Dr Chong notes that it may help to lie on your tummy after intercourse.

For men…

* Would frequent ejaculation affect the quality of my sperm? Excessive ejaculation has been known to cause a sharp drop in the quantity of sperm. However, Dr Chong says that ejaculating up to five days in a row should not affect the man’s sperm quality.

* Could smoking, alcohol or stress affect my sperm quality? How can I improve it? Your lifestyle choices will greatly influence the sperm quality, so get tips on what you can do to improve the quality of your little swimmers.

* Am I to blame for our inability to conceive? What tests can be done? How much do they cost? What is the success rate of the treatment/s? While people tend to jump to the conclusion that a couple’s fertility problems lie with the woman, men can also be the cause. Dr Chong says your doctor will likely recommend a semen analysis and if this comes back with signs of abnormality, an ultrasound scan may be carried out on your testes.

* Would relaxing or taking vitamins improve our chances of getting pregnant? Sometimes, adding supplements to your diet may improve your wife’s chances of falling pregnant.

* Will the medication I take be harmful to me or my wife? Let your doctor know if you are on any medication, so that he can better advise you, as well as prevent any harmful interactions between drugs.

Photo: iStock

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