The Facts About Infertility
Fertility facts and specialists
The Unknown Factor in Infertility
Although estimates vary, infertility is unexplained in approximately 20 percent of cases. When this happens, there is no medical answer to the problem. Some couples opt to increase their chances of conceiving by trying various assisted reproductive techniques such as fertility drugs, artificial insemination, or some form of in vitro fertilization. Others decide to keep trying the old-fashioned way and investigate other factors that can influence fertility and which they have some personal control over; these include changes in lifestyle, exposure to environmental toxins, positions during intercourse, and reducing the amount of stress in their lives.
Before you jump into fertility testing, it's best to take time to look where you're going. The first step is to carefully choose the physician who will guide you through this process. Start with your gynecologist. Together, the two of you will assess your fertility and then decide if you should also consult a fertility specialist.
If you do decide to go to a fertility specialist, choose this person carefully. Because there is no regulation, licensing, or certification required for advertising this specialty, any physician can be listed as a fertility specialist. Just because someone is listed as a "fertility specialist" or has certificates on the office wall announcing membership in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is qualified to help your particular situation. Before you make your first appointment, call and ask if the physician is board-certified or board-eligible in reproductive endocrinology (meaning that he or she has passed a national board examination to specialize in fertility).
Don't forget that males need a specialized health-care provider, too. It is unlikely that his general practitioner (GP) can adequately perform the necessary diagnostic tests, and if the GP does perform the tests, he or she will likely refer the patient on to a specialist when the results are in anyway.
Most often men are referred to an urologist, but keep in mind that not all urologists are adequately trained to handle fertility problems. It's best to see an andrologist. Andrology is a specialty within the field of urology that focuses specifically on fertility. Andrologists are the physicians most highly qualified to deal with all aspects of male-factor infertility. These doctors have completed a one- to two-year fellowship and have passed an examination to become a board-certified andrologist.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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