Should You Be Evaluated for Infertility?

What to Expect at Your Evaluation

About 40 percent of infertile couples have more than one cause of infertility, or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained. (The remaining 60 percent is due to a problem in one partner.) A complete evaluation may require several visits, by both partners, to one or more infertility specialists. Before beginning any testing, a fertility doctor will schedule an initial appointment to obtain a complete medical history from both you and your partner.

The appointment can take about an hour, during which time the doctor will ask questions about previous surgeries, chronic illnesses, and hospitalizations, and will inquire about any previous testing or treatment you've had for fertility-related disorders. (Bring medical records with you to the appointment, or have them sent ahead.) The doctor will also ask you about your lifestyle and stress, whether you use tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or any medications; you may also be asked if you've been exposed to certain toxins at home or in the workplace.

In addition, you and your partner will be asked to provide a detailed account of your reproductive history, which might include information about previous pregnancies, miscarriages, elective abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You'll be asked about your current sexual practices, such as the frequency and timing of intercourse.

Many couples, understandably, find these questions intrusive and embarrassing. But it's vital that you be completely honest with your doctor so you can get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible.

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