Preparing to Visit A Fertility Doctor
So, you think you want to be a single mom via sperm donation, and you’ve made an appointment to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist or fertility doctor. You may have waited months to see this doctor so you want to be as prepared as possible for the appointment.
The first step is getting clear about your goals and priorities so you know what you want to accomplish and have some ideas about the ideal process for you
Getting Clear On Your Priorities
Timing: How soon do you want to start trying to conceive. Are you ready to start now or do you want more time—to accomplish any goals, travel or date more. Balance these considerations with the notion that there is no good time to get pregnant.
Interventions and Medications: How do you feel about taking medications and other interventions to enhance fertility and promote conception?
Women have widely different comfort levels with taking medications and hormones and that’s ok. It’s good just to know where you are at. On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel about taking medications to get pregnant?
1–I feel very strongly about not taking meds.
5–I’d rather try a natural approach first but am open if that doesn’t’ work
10–I have no concerns about taking medications and hormones to get pregnant—I’m open to the most aggressive approach to get pregnant regardless of the drugs.
Does this answer differ depending on the drug, knowing what you know now about the process? This can flag for you some questions or research that you may want to undertake depending on your initial reaction to the idea of the various interventions.
- The first approach for many doctors is to prescribe an oral medication such as Clomid or Letrazole to hyperstimulate your ovaries for an IUI.
- If oral medications do not work, a doctor may prescribe injectable drugs to help stimulate the ovaries.
Then there are the full range of injectable drugs used for IVF cycles
What are you limits, if any, at this point? This answer can change, and may have to change, but it’s good to know where you stand at the outset.
Budget and Costs: What is your overall budget for getting pregnant? Would you rather go all in on the most expensive treatment that has the best possible chance of working right away? Or would you like to try something cheaper first?
Does your insurance cover any methods? And if so are they any requirements to try certain procedures first?
In my case, getting pregnant with my own eggs was a longshot. Yet, I was unable to put it down until I had made an effort with my own eggs. Setting a financial limit, helped me know when to let go of my plan and try something different.
Time Limits: What is your time limit for trying? Are you willing to try for a long time, or is there some urgency to trying quickly? For example, do you want to be pregnant by a certain age? Or do you feel like you are racing against the fertility window?
Are you considering having more than one child in the future?
If you aren’t ready yet, are you interested in learning more about egg freezing to buy yourself more time?
Goals For The Doctor’s Appointment:
- What’s the single most important question you want answered during the appointment?
- What information is the most important for you to have before you leave the appointment? Make a list and have it ready.
- What are the main things you want to understand when you leave?
At The Appointment
Overview of Your Fertility Picture
- The three main measures of fertility are: AMH, FSH, Resting Follicle count.
- Here’s a great article and video with a review of the most common tests to assess fertility. https://www.fertilityiq.com/diagnostic-testing-fertility
Note: Make sure you ask the doctor for copies of these tests so you can understand them and present them to other care providers if necessary.
How soon would the doctor recommend starting to try? Is there a rush to get started?
Fertility is highly unpredictable and uncertain. It could be fine one day and drop dramatically at any time or continue without change for equally long. A doctor, who specializes in infertility has seen the pain of waiting all too many times. With that in mind, try to get a sense for where your fertility is at compared to other women your age. Do they have a strong recommendation either way?
What is the most conservative treatment step? (if this is important to you)
- Pros and cons?
Note: If you are visiting an RE, you may find that the first thing recommended is a medicated IUI. This means taking an oral medication such as Clomid or Letrazole to hyperstimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs. The doctor will monitor the growth of the eggs with an ultrasound and usually give you a trigger shot to force ovulation at a predictable time at which time you will return for an IUI insemination. Some women are happy to start here. Others want to try an unmedicated cycle first—maybe they are sensitive to drugs and don’t want to start there. Or, they want to save money.
Recognize that you are not a fertility patient simply because you are a single woman seeking to get pregnant via sperm donor. You can still start very low-tech—even with a home IUI if you prefer.
Other women are excited to move forward as quickly as possible or worried about waning fertility and want a more aggressive approach from the outset.
What are the more aggressive options?
- Pros and cons?
Which approach does your doctor recommend?
Sometimes, a doctor will give lots of information and it’s easy to lose track of what they actually recommend. Of course, it’s your choice, but don’t be afraid to push the doctor for a recommendation if you are feeling uncertain or confused.
Family Goals: If you want more than one child in the future, does this change the doctor’s recommendation? If you are 35 or above and think you want to have more than one child, a doctor may recommend IVF simply so that you can harvest lots of eggs or embryos to keep on ice until you are ready for a second baby. Doing so will insure that you don’t have to worry about declining fertility while you are getting pregnant and having baby number 1. If you only want one child, you may be able to try with more natural, less invasive and less expensive methods of insemination such as IUI, first. And, if that doesn’t work you can move onto IVF.
Which sperm banks do they work with?
- Do they have a preferred bank? And why?
- If you have a bank in mind that they are not used to working with, what are the steps to working with the bank of your choice?
Other Health Concerns: Do you have any concerns about other health conditions or medications and how they may affect getting pregnant or being pregnant?
Is egg freezing a viable option for you if you aren’t ready to start getting pregnant now?
- How much does it cost?
- What are the statistics for a woman your age or a woman with your fertility picture.
- What are the statistics for frozen embryos if you are willing to fertilize the eggs now with donor sperms?