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How to Prepare for Your First Fertility Clinic Appointment

Article was specially written for by Aileen Conner.

Visiting a fertility clinic can be a daunting concept for any individual or couple. Generally, though, it’s something you’ll be glad to have done in the end. This will be all the more true, also, if you’ve taken the time to prepare for the process so as to get everything you can out of it.

To that end, we have a few helpful tips about how to prepare for a first fertility clinic appointment.

Consult with Friends

One of the common misconceptions among those considering fertility appointments is that they are in some significant minority. It can feel unusual to need help in this area, and a why me (or why us) mentality is perfectly natural. The truth of the matter, however, is that fertility treatment is far more common than most people think.

According to Pew Research Center’s data on fertility treatments, roughly one-third of all U.S. adults say that they have either received such treatments or known someone who has. One third! That means you’re in pretty good company, and you almost certainly have some kind of connection to someone who’s gone through the same process. So, if possible, consider reaching out. While this is all a private matter to some, you may just find a friend, family member, or other connection who will answer questions and help guide you toward a productive and comfortable first appointment.

Find the Right Specialist

The most important part of setting up the first appointment is ultimately finding the right person to have the appointment with. And as it so happens, there are actually multiple kinds of specialists in the field, meaning you may have more options than you expect.

First, naturally, you can consult a fertility doctor — or more properly, a reproductive endocrinologist (or RE). Reproductive endocrinology is essentially a specialty within the field of gynecology, and it is one in which doctors are trained to assess and address fertility issues in both men and women. If in fact, it turns out that treatment is needed (either for you or your partner), you’ll likely see an RE at one point or another during the process.

For an initial appointment though, you may also see a fertility nurse. This is a position that is becoming more common, in part because broader educational opportunities for registered nurses (RNs) are expanding specialty fields. Many of these opportunities have come about thanks to the growth of online higher education, where Maryville University’s overview of RN-to-BSN degrees notes that RNs can gain the skills to qualify for a “wider range of jobs” and specialties. Among these specialties are fertility nurses, who study specifically to help individuals and couples with assessment and treatment.

No one option is better than the other. But it’s good to know that there are options so that you can begin to look into specifics, make your calls, and choose an initial point of contact.

Have Your Medical History & Details Handy

This point more or less speaks for itself. But you should know that whether your initial appointment is with a fertility nurse or an RE, much of it is going to revolve around your medical history and any other details regarding your health. The nurse or doctor will have questions in these areas, and the answers will play a role in determining the best path forward toward treatment. For this simple reason, your first appointment will be most productive (and most satisfying) if you’ve taken the time to compile any and all relevant medical history and details to have on hand. Any detail might help!

Explore Resources for Payment Assistance

Unfortunately, as was noted in a past piece on ‘Resources for Affording Fertility Treatment’, a lot of medical insurance providers do not cover this specific issue. Despite the fact that it is a real medical issue that can be officially diagnosed, it is simply ignored in much if not most standard coverage. For many, this means it’s necessary to explore other resources for treatment and payment assistance (several of which were listed in the aforementioned piece).

You don’t necessarily have to have all of this figured out before a first appointment. We are mentioning it here however just because it’s one more thing worth discussing with your care provider. While the primary focus should be on health and fertility, it can’t hurt to run some of your resource options by a nurse or doctor. They may have some input that can help you find the most affordable path for treatment.

Again, all of this can make for a somewhat daunting task. Fertility issues are stressful and confusing, and always feel deeply personal. But again, they are normal, and actually getting more so. Just this year, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor’s comments on fertility suggested that a majority of couples will likely need assistance with reproduction by 2045. That isn’t good news, of course, but if anything it should reassure you that you are far from alone in confronting the issue, even now.

There is help to be had, and taking a prepared, clear-eyed approach to that help will put you in the best situation moving forward.

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