Preparing for Your First Fertility Clinic Appointment
So you’re going to see a fertility specialist…Dr. Dana McQueen answers your questions, like what to bring with you and what to expect during and after the appointment.
After scheduling your first fertility clinic visit with a Reproductive Endocrinologist, you may be wondering what to expect and how to prepare. So, let’s break it down.
What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist?
A Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) is a specialist in the care of patients with infertility. To become a Reproductive Endocrinologist, your doctor will have completed four years of college, four years of medical school, four years of OBGYN residency, and three years of reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) fellowship training. Yes, that’s a lot of school!
What to expect?
At your first visit, you will sit down with your doctor to discuss any challenges you have faced trying to build a family. Your doctor will ask you about how long you’ve been trying, if you’ve been having regular menstrual cycles, and how you have been timing intercourse (ovulation tests, apps, menstrual calendars, etc). You will also review your medical and surgical history to see if there are any factors that may have led to difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Your first visit can get personal quickly. You will describe any prior pregnancies, including miscarriages, and may talk about experiences you haven’t even discussed with close friends. It’s not uncommon to become tearful during your first fertility visit. We know this is a super stressful experience, and this reaction is completely normal.
What to bring with you?
1. Your partner. If you are in a relationship, it is important you are both present at this first visit, as their medical history is as important as yours!
2. A note pad. Bring something to take notes on. There is a ton of information, and it can rush past you fast.
3. Prior test results. If you have undergone any tests with your primary care doctor or OBGYN, it is very helpful if you bring these results to your visit. This helps you avoid repeating tests that were already done. If available, bring any of these results to your appointment:
- Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing Hormone
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
- Genetic carrier screening
- Semen analysis
- Saline ultrasound (SIS)
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
Will I need to have blood drawn?
You and your partner will both probably have blood drawn at your first visit, so if you hate needles, psych yourself up for the day!
Will I need a vaginal ultrasound?
You may have a vaginal ultrasound at your first visit. A vaginal ultrasound provides a better view of your uterus and ovaries than an abdominal ultrasound, and so it is the main diagnostic tool fertility doctors use to look at your anatomy. We can use a vaginal ultrasound to count the number of follicles in your ovaries and evaluate for fibroids or polyps in your uterus. Pro Tip: be prepared for goopy ultrasound gel, it’s kind of a mess!
After your visit, you will likely need to schedule an evaluation of your fallopian tubes (HSG). Your partner will also need to schedule a semen analysis. After these are completed, you will have a follow-up visit with your doctor to discuss results and make a plan.
Wondering how to know whether it is time to see a fertility specialist? We answer all your questions here.
Dana McQueen, MD MAS received her medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago, completed a one year Fellowship in Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at the University of Illinois, and received a MAS (Masters of Advanced Studies) in Clinical Research from University of California, San Diego. Dr. McQueen will complete her fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in Summer 2020 and will be joining Reproductive Science Center in Oakland in Fall 2020. You can follow her on Instagram @drdanamcqueen.