Fertility treatments

Specialty of Obstetrics & gynaecology

What is fertility treatment?

Fertility treatment is typically given by a fertility specialist or fertility doctor, often an obstetrician/gynaecologist specialising in the issues and treatment surrounding infertility. The sub-specialty is often referred to as 'reproductive medicine', dealing with the prevention, diagnosis and management of reproductive problems.

What conditions does a fertility specialist treat?

Fertility specialists consult for and are able to diagnose all manner of conditions surrounding infertility and related problems. These specialists may consult for both male and female infertility, making an initial assessment either for an individual or a couple. Fertility specialists typically use three main methods of treatment for fertility issues, being medication, surgical procedures, and assisted conception. Depending on the treatment, fertility specialists may refer to other specialists, such as surgeons or endocrinologists.

Surgical procedures may be used for conditions such as endometriosis (where the womb lining grows outside the womb), fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In men, surgery may be used to correct epididymal blockages, and retrieve sperm.

Fertility medication is more commonly issued to women in order to help with ovulation issues. However, medication may be issued in some cases of male infertility or related problems.

Many people visit fertility specialists for assisted conception, typically through IVF (in vitro fertilisation), IUI (intrauterine insemination), or egg/sperm donation.

When should you see a fertility specialist for fertility treatment?

There are many reasons to visit a fertility specialist. For women under 35, visiting a fertility specialist is recommended when pregnancy has not been achieved after one year of unprotected intercourse. Women 35 and older are recommended to visit a fertility specialist after 6 months of trying.

Other reasons for visiting a fertility specialist include:

  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • wishing to delay conception
  • being diagnosed with cancer during fertile years and wishing to conserve eggs

In those with a thyroid condition, or who are overweight, or have a known reproductive issue such as PCOS, visiting a fertility specialist is advised before trying to get pregnant. In addition, some may wish to visit a fertility specialist and consult for the following reasons:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Having had an STI
  • Multiple miscarriages or a history of miscarriage
  • Having had abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Absence of periods
  • Painful periods
  • Issues with erectile dysfunction
  • Problems ejaculating
  • Sustaining an injury to the genitals or groin
  • A lump or swelling in the testicles (varicocele)

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