Regardless of who you see for fertility care, you deserve the best — personalized treatment. I realize that not everyone can come to see me, and I won’t be around forever. This information is a valuable resource as you begin your fertility journey, whoever it is with and whenever it takes place.
The inspiration behind this topic? Well — it started with some snooping. Several times each day, I hear my receptionist answer the phone and new patients on the other end asking what they can expect at a new patient consult.
Well, my friends. The mystery is about to be revealed!
Let’s go through what the first visit to a fertility doctor entails and how you can get the most out of it.
Get to the doctor’s office early.
If you’re like me and you’re directionally challenged, first — I’m sorry, and secondly, plan ahead for your visit! I strongly encourage you to leave ample time to find the office and to even arrive a bit early.
(Sidenote: I joke that my name AIMee means I can AIM the catheter in the uterus, but that’s about the only direction I know. Go ahead and laugh, I know you want to. I would too!)
If you have medical records please bring a paper copy with you.
Even if they have you send records electronically or by fax, please print them out. I personally like to flip through paper records and it helps me make sure I haven’t missed any valuable information. If your only option is to have records sent from one office to another, call ahead and confirm that records have been received. You’re the director of this fertility “project” ensuring that all the pieces are in the right place. I will help you too!
Create your own fertility binder.
This may harken you back to high school, but I’m not joking when I say that patients are bringing in binders full of information. I love it! Keep doing it, and I encourage everyone to get organized and keep track of their own medical records this way. Create a summary page of all the treatment you’ve been through, tests you’ve done and medications and supplements you’re taking. Bring everything you know about your own body to each visit. You are the keeper of knowledge on your body. Yes, your doctor should and will review as well, but this is your project to steer. Trust me, you want to be as involved in the process as your doctor’s office is.
Your visit will be efficient if you do the work ahead of time and come in organized!
What work am I talking about doing ahead of time?
Understand your TUSHY.
I’ll be saying or singing this on repeat. Know your fertility health. Get your TUSHY checked!
This week, I had a patient come to me who had been struggling for three years to conceive. She’s been to a fertility doctor and is working with her OBGYN. I was stunned to learn she had not had a pelvic ultrasound. How is this possible?!
I did a pelvic ultrasound on her first visit and discovered large fibroids that are likely to be part of the barrier to her conceiving.
Make sure you ask before your first visit: Am I going to have an ultrasound?
People that come to my office know that I want the pelvic ultrasound to be as comfortable as possible. If you have your period it is still okay. I have the smallest probe and the latest ultrasound on the market.
If you haven’t had any of your TUSHY checked, make sure you do at least the AMH and semen analysis before you see me. These two things will be very helpful to talk about and review during the visit. I will then take all the information (including the ultrasound results) to talk about additional tests we may want to do, what I think the fertility diagnosis is, what treatment may make sense and what your family goals are. Based on your diagnosis, age, and what I’m seeing, we can chart the best path for you to achieve your family goals.
When I use “Wanda”, the wand — I’m making sure patients feel comfortable. Do not hold up your first visit with a fertility doctor because you skipped your waxing appointment or didn’t shave. I do not care what you look like. I’m not looking at your painted toes. I’m not interested in any of that.
Know who you are talking with and that the doctor you’ve scheduled with is the one you are seeing.
Make sure you know the name of the Doctor you are seeing. After the visit, ask: What is the best way to get in touch with you if I have additional questions?
Be prepared for a blood draw
AMH, preconception panel and a genetic screen are all tests I may do among others at a new patient visit. I draw blood on a regular basis.
What does this mean?
Go into your first visit hydrated and well fed so that you don’t faint!
Men: please don’t be scared.
Men that accompany partners to the office are typically scared. Fret not. We will not check your swimmers on the first visit. You can do a semen analysis later and collect the sample at home if you haven’t had one done. I will order it at your first visit for you.
If you’re not partnered bring a fertility friend. Someone that’s there that can take notes and help you review what was discussed at the appointment and help you decide on a plan.
I see myself as a fertility navigator. Your Google maps for fertility. I tell you what I think it will take to get to your desired destination. It’s up to you to choose your own adventure, but whatever you choose, I will do my best to make it as successful as possible.
Be sure to ask your doctor: what’s my diagnosis and what’s the best treatment plan for me?
If I choose something else (for instance IUI vs. IVF) what will you be doing to optimize my chances of conception? Ultimately, the treatment you decide on is YOUR choice, and you need to make sure you have a doctor that supports you in that.
I hope this is helpful to prepare you for your first visit with a fertility specialist.
I want to encourage you to get in touch live. I’m hosting TUSHY talks on Twitter. You can search #tushytalk on Twitter to review what questions from our first TUSHY Twitter party.
I’ll be doing more of these in the future.
Finally, I want to leave you with my mantra: Ask more questions.
I always send patients a written summary after each visit. It’s your personalized fertility plan. I outline what I want you to do and when you should reach out to me. If you find you’re not getting the fertility support you need, there are so many doctors that can and do give patients personalized and loving care. I’m happy to help you find someone if you can’t see me. You want to feel like the doctor you’re seeing is really listening to you and treating you like you’re the only patient being seen.