What You Need to Know About Infertility

Sometimes the path to a baby is a long, arduous journey. Infertility is such an intimate issue that many couples don’t know how to bring up the subject with their doctors.

Dr. Janet Bouknight and Dr. Mamie McLean are infertility specialists with Alabama Fertility Specialists and Brookwood Baptist Medical Center. Their favorite parts of their job is helping create families, so they offered some expert advice to help those who may be struggling.

If you suspect you may be suffering from infertility, get an evaluation.

According to Dr. Bouknight and Dr. McLean, if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year and are under the age of 35, make sure both you and your partner see a doctor to speak about the possibility of infertility.

“If you’re over the age of 35, see a physician after trying for 6 months,” said Dr. Bouknight. “If you’re over 40, have an immediate evaluation.”

Patients with any concerns about their ability to conceive due to irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis, or male partners with medical history that may be concerning for infertility – see your doctors right away for initial evaluation,” recommends Dr. Mclean.

Guys, you’ll need to be checked out too

According to Dr. Mclean, men contribute to infertility up to 40% of the time. “We have a lot of times where men don’t want to do the semen collection, so women end up placing a lot of blame on themselves,” she said.

“The women always think it’s them!” said Dr. Bouknight, “but men can also contribute to infertility. Make sure both of you are checked for possible issues.”

The answer might be simple (and not as expensive as you think)

“We worry about people who spend year and years trying to get pregnant but don’t come see us because of worry about treatments and cost. But infertility can effect overall health,” said Dr. Bouknight. “It can be very frustrating to not know what is happening – a simple blood or semen test can tell us a lot.”

Dr. Mclean also mentioned that many patients are worried about the potential cost and invasive nature of fertility treatments. “IVF is not the only option available,” she said. “Many times, we can use oral medications to induce ovulation, intrauterine insemination to overcome low sperm count and laparoscopic procedures for endometriosis.”

“IVF or surgery may be necessary for more serious causes of infertility,” said Dr. Bouknight, “but we have many other options available. Patients are very concerned that treatment will be costly or overwhelming, but many times it isn’t as costly as they believed it to be.”

Talk to someone about it

If you are struggling with infertility, you aren’t alone. According to the CDC, over 7 million women aged 15-44 have used infertility services. [1] While many people don’t like speaking about it, it can be hard to work through alone, so both Dr. Bouknight and Dr. Mclean suggest reaching out to those around you for support.

“There are many people undergoing fertility evaluations and treatments, and just as many support groups,” said Dr. McLean. “You may even have a friend who is also going through the same thing. Talking to those who are also struggling will help you know you’re not alone.”

Dr. Bouknight suggests making sure you have adequate support for your journey. “For many, this is a private matter and you might not want to share. Seek out a counselor or safe person to help. Trying to deal with infertility alone can result in anxiety and depression.”

Know that fertility specialists are there with you

“My favorite part is getting to know these women and couples,” said Dr. McLean. “It’s a very intimate, but short term, relationship. We talk about everything from periods to intercourse and we really get to know each other very well. I love knowing my patients and getting to know their stories. Also, of course, seeing my patients get pregnant and then getting to meet their little one that they’ve waited for for so long.”

“It’s an amazing job to help couples build their families and it is extremely rewarding,” said Dr. Bouknight. “We want to provide a comfortable setting to deal with these very personal issues. I hope that we can provide patience and understanding because it’s tough. We want to help you understand and approach any issues so that you can be healthy and happy.”

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infertility.htm


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