Your GP is the first person to see if are concerned about your fertility, however they are not specialists in this field. To make the most of your appointment it is best if you do a bit of homework first, suggests Laura Carter-Penman, Lead Fertility Nurse at Bourn Hall.
It is recommended to arrange an appointment with the GP, if you have been trying to conceive for over a year or know of an underlying medical condition that might make it difficult for you to get pregnant. Laura talks to people at an early stage of their fertility journey all the time and gives advice on how they can improve their fertility, she provides some tips below on what to ask your GP about fertility.
What to ask your GP about fertility
She says: “The average GP will only see about six cases of infertility a year, and if you are otherwise fit and healthy you may be advised to try for a bit longer. Although in many cases this is all that is required, if there is an issue it is best to know as soon as possible so you can take measures to increase your chances of pregnancy.”
Laura suggests that in your discussions with your GP you should:
- Give the age of both partners – egg quantity declines after the age of 35 so age is a common cause of infertility. The male age is also important as sperm quality can reduce with age.
- Measure your height and weight to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). The recommended healthy BMI for both partners when trying to get pregnant is 19 – 26, so achieving this may improve your fertility which might be sufficient to achieve natural conception. The NHS has a number of programmes to help you to lose weight.
- Record your periods – if you have a regular cycle then this is an indication that you are releasing a mature egg each month (ovulating). Keep a record of your periods, the date they start and the duration. Are they very heavy or painful? There are also ovulation kits that you can buy. Your GP can request a blood test to check your ovulation hormone levels.
- Mention any relevant family history – did your mum have difficulties getting pregnant? Did she have treatment for painful periods? Early menopause? Diagnosed with PCOS or had suspected endometriosis?
- Be prepared to talk about sex – ensure that you are having unprotected intercourse two to three times a week before you go to your GP as you will be asked about this; don’t worry about timing around ovulation – if you are having sex with this frequency you will hit the window when ovulation occurs.
- Be clear about any previous fertility tests – if you had previously been referred for testing and have some results then take these with you to the GP appointment. If no tests have been done then you could request appropriate female fertility tests and a semen analysis for men. Same-sex couples should also be tested for fertility issues as this might determine who carries the pregnancy.
- It may easiest if you both have the same GP, but check first if either of your GPs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) provides funding for IVF treatment. There is currently a postcode lottery for IVF funding and GP practices a few miles apart may fall under different policies.
The virtual Fertility Fair on 10th April 2021 offers the opportunity for one-on-one chats with fertility specialists.