Infertility and Insurance: From OB to RE
This month we are in a 4 part series unveiling the challenges of infertility and offering guidance along the way. Last post we defined infertility, debunking some common misconceptions; this week we are looking at how to find an Infertility Specialist, known as a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Stay tuned for next week’s insights into funding your fertility.
From Fun to Fear
We’ve been trying for 8 months. In giddy anticipation of a baby, we were the first of our friends to declare we are “pulling the goalie!” Oh the fun at the beginning: dreaming of nurseries, picking out names and planning due dates. But the fun of trying is quickly fading into fear and desperation as my period comes month after month.
I was living in denial while we started all the blood work, temperature plotting charts and ovulation tests with our OB/GYN. We must just be too stressed right now. Things will calm down next month. Are we doing something wrong in the bedroom?
I probably would have stayed at my OB/GYN for another year. In denial, I certainly wouldn’t have considered myself infertile, and couldn’t even think about something like IVF. No way. No how. But we ultimately we took the plunge and sought out a highly recommended Reproductive Endocrinologist. She had the unique ability to establish trust right away, and guided us slowly through a plan that lead to a successful pregnancy.
If you are under the age of 35, have been trying to conceive for a year and already done a work up with your OB/GYN, it might be time to transition to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. For those over the age of 35, after trying for 6 months with a work up, it’s time for the transition. It is a very vulnerable time and you want to find a trustworthy doctor to help you. Here are some suggestions for how to find a good Reproductive Endocrinologist:
1. Talk to Friends
I still remember how nervous I was sitting down to lunch with Kay, my friend who struggled with infertility. However, the protective walls I’d put up around my heart came down as we shared stories, laughing and crying. I left lunch feeling a little lighter and with a list of recommendations in hand: from Reproductive Endocrinologists, to therapists and support groups. I am so grateful I took the risk to talk to a friend.
Who is the Kay in your life? Reach out to her! (You won’t jinx yourself, I promise!) And chances are she has some suggestions about where to start.
2. The Importance of Trust
The most important quality to look for in a doctor is trust. That is why your first visit with a specialist feels like a first date. Is there chemistry? Do you sense the doctor is listening to you? Do you sense she is up to date on her research? Do you feel pushed or pressured beyond your comfort level? You get to call the shots and outline what you do and don’t want to pursue.
A dear friend of mine knows she has Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a common reason for infertility. She asked both her OB/GYN and her friends for a referral; both resulted in the same name. This doctor has done extensive work and research with PCOS patients and was the right fit for her.
Chances are you already know what the root of the problem is: Endometriosis? Weight related infertility? Male factor infertility? Look for a RE that specializes in these areas.
4. Make A Plan
One of the hardest parts of infertility is feeling completely out of control. I found it comforting to have a plan from my doctor: a step by step guide for each cycle. Work together with your provider to make a plan. Ask questions a long the way, it's your right as the patient. Here is a guide to some helpful questions you might consider.
5. Alphabet Soup
Get ready for some crazy new lingo. The words and procedures make the entire process feel overwhelming. I found it helpful to talk to others who had gone through the same procedures: Which procedures hurt? Which ones cost the most? Do I need to schedule a day off of work for that one? For a break down of some of the most common initial procedures, check out: American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Take the Plunge
It is time to transition from your OB/GYN to a Reproductive Endocrinologist? Go ahead and take that first step by asking questions and doing some research. The sooner you get the ball rolling, the sooner you will get answers, and hopefully a baby! Stay tuned for our next blog about how to leverage your insurance and fund the journey.