Deciding to seek care from a fertility specialist can feel daunting but taking the time to make that emotional and financial investment will likely prove to be one of the best decisions you have ever made.
Until recently, seeking the care of a Reproductive Endocrinologist was most often sought by those faced with an infertility diagnosis – but that’s just not true anymore. The scope of practice of what an REI does and who they treat has truly expanded. Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Specialists (REI) are the doctors you want to see if you seek to manage your reproductive life and fertility potential. REI’s work with women who want to freeze their eggs as a means of fertility preservation; with single women and single men who seek to have a family; with LGBTQ+ couples and individuals as well as those who face an infertility diagnosis.
Even the definition of “infertility” has evolved over time. Infertility, once defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after unprotected intercourse for one year, if under the age of 35, and 6 months, if over the age of 35 has evolved. The questions to ask as to whether to make that REI consult may include: do I want to have a child next year? did I already want to have a child by now (and have been trying) but haven’t conceived yet? If you find yourself saying YES to these questions, at whatever age, then a consult to find out next steps makes complete sense.
Whether you are preserving your fertility or looking to add a child into your life now, the whole search process can be overwhelming. Most reputable fertility centers will have robust yet easy to understand content on their websites and social media platforms. Here, they will break down all the pathways to parenthood while also highlighting some of their patient journeys. Your OBGYN’s are also a good referral source, just remember though – an OB is not an REI. A Reproductive Endocrinologist has specific and lengthy medical training in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Visit the not-for-profit patient advocacy site Resolve.org and ASRM’s (our industries governing association) website. Both are a great unbiased source of fertility information. There are also, plenty of social media patient & advocate profiles that you can follow, and many participants are open to direct message. However, remember this is your unique journey – use your peers’ experiences as experiences that help your share & build strength. Unfortunately, social media can also fuel anxiety and confuse with misinformation, so trust your gut and take only what you need to empower you.
When you have your first appointment with your REI, plan to cover a lot of ground. Be prepared and ask questions. In that first meeting, you will be reviewing your medical history and any testing you (and your partner, if you have one) have already had. You will receive a relatively standardized checklist of items to complete (Bloodwork, HSG, genetic testing, semen analysis) so we understand you (you and partner) at baseline. But a critical part of that first visit is the physician discussing what your hopes and desires are. What does “success” in this world of human reproduction, look like to you?
A great REI will build an open & trusting relationship with you. They will have a support team that listens and is responsive to your questions and needs. They will be a true partner in your care.
IRMS is a world-class fertility center with offices throughout New Jersey & New York. We have an experienced & compassionate team of Reproductive Endocrinologists & Embryologists – pioneers in the field of infertility, who have trained at some of the nation’s leading institutions including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, & NYU.