I am always being asked, “What can I do to improve my chances for pregnancy?” Besides taking prenatal vitamins and leading a healthy lifestyle, these are tips for any woman seeking better communication with her fertility specialist.
- Be well informed but don’t rely on the Internet. Reading about your medical condition and understanding the test results and treatment options available can be empowering but not everything you read on the Internet is accurate or applies to your individual situation. Ask your doctor what resources she would recommend. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has a patient educational website which features patient information fact sheets as well as videos at www.Reproductivefacts.org.
- Enlist your partner in the process. Patients whose partners come to the initial consultation and follow-up appointments not only seem to experience less stress but have better overall outcomes. If you have a male partner, your fertility specialist can only understand his role in your mutual inability to conceive if she has reviewed his medical history in person. If you have a female partner or spouse, she can be an important source of support and help during the treatment. Your partner can be your best advocate and adviser when considering treatment options, but only if he or she has been engaged in the process.
- Respect your doctor’s time. Make an appointment to meet with your doctor in person. Urgent phone calls will be returned promptly by your doctor but no phone call or email is a substitute for an appointment. Time is reserved to focus solely on you and your partner. Without face to face discussion we cannot get to know you as completely and personally as possible.
- Take ownership of your health. If your doctor mentions personal issues such as losing weight, smoking cessation or other lifestyle changes, please understand that she is not being insensitive. She is making recommendations that will really improve your chances of success.
- Be positive, be patient, be realistic. Negative thinking does not impact your chance of pregnancy, but feeling hopeful allows you to deal with the stresses of treatment more effectively. If you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed, please speak with your providers about counseling. You are not alone in this journey, but it may take time to solve complex medical issues. Being realistic about your chances may allow you to move on to opportunities which might be more successful in the long term: IVF, third party reproduction or even adoption.
Finally, make sure that you DO communicate with your physician all of your concerns and questions. Communication is the key to a better fertility experience and journey.
By Dr. Pei-Li Huang, MD: Partner & Founder, Fertility Solutions