Deciding to seek care from an Infertility Specialist can be a scary and overwhelming experience. Approximately 10-15 % of couples in the United States are infertile, so you are definitely not alone! Doctors who exclusively treat infertility are called Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility Specialists (REI), and have completed an extra three years of fellowship training after an Obstetrics and Gynecologic residency.
Infertility is defined as a year of inability to achieve pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. Your Obstetrician and Gynecologist would generally advise you to see an fertility specialist once you meet this definition. However, if you are over the age of 35, you should see an REI after six months of trying to conceive.
Finding a doctor who is a good fit for you is a very personal decision. You can start by asking your OB/GYN for referrals, as well as friends, family and colleagues who may have had a good experience with a particular fertility practice. Insurance companies and the internet are also good resources. Be prepared to spend a lot of time at your initial visit. Your doctor will take the time to learn about you and your partner and any history that could be contributing to your difficulty with conception. A physical exam and ultrasound are often part of the first visit, as well. Your doctor will then order diagnostic testing usually including ovarian reserve testing, a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and semen analysis, among other things. Once completed you will follow up with your doctor to finalize a treatment plan.
Remember that you are not alone in going through this, and an REI physician is experienced in dealing solely with women and men suffering from infertility. Even though it may seem daunting to embark on such a journey; both the physician and their office staff are trained to make the process as easy as possible, and lead you to the best outcome for you.