September 2, 2014
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Fertility

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We're infertile! Now what?

You have just found out that you face fertility obstacles. If you haven't already visited a fertility specialist, that will likely be your next step.

Am I ready to visit a fertility specialist? Visit any reputable fertility clinic and you will be guided through the steps and options. But feel free to investigate clinics and specialists. It's also a good idea to prepare a list of questions to ask before you make an appointment. Ask around in online fertility forum for recommendations and feedback. Find out about the reputation of your potential fertility specialist (also known as a reproductive endocrinologist or RE). The clinic that is best for you might not be the one nearest to you, or you could be just around the corner from the one you need. You won't know until you look around or ask some questions.

At a clinic, you will have a chance to talk about treatments and procedures. Clinics often will tell you the success rates of their treatments, but you should feel comfortable asking any questions you may have. Payment and insurance coverage will also be discussed, and you may be referred to support services, including counselling or complementary therapies like acupuncture or meditation.

You may also undergo further tests to better pinpoint the reasons for infertility and plan for your best possible course of treatment.

Regardless of where the difficulty comes from - you, your partner, from both of you, or from still unexplained reasons - the diagnosis of infertility raises lots of questions and forces you to make important choices. Some things you might find yourself thinking about now include:

Do I understand the reasons for this diagnosis? Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Be sure you really "get it". Is it a sperm or an egg problem - or a bit of both? Are there problems with implantation, or is an underlying condition interfering with conception? The more you know, the more prepared you will be for the next steps, whether that means starting treatment right away or seeking a second opinion. Now may be a good time for you and your partner to sketch out a fertility plan, including details of potential treatments and any financial planning you may need to do.

Will I be able to afford fertility treatment? It may not feel right to put a dollar value on your dreams of becoming a parent. But looking at a list of potential treatments and medications, you could get sticker shock. There are many ways to make it work, though. You might be able to turn to your private health insurance coverage. Government tax credits are available, and certain provincial health plans offer coverage. You may also qualify for financial assistance through the GAP Program. If you're eligible, you could receive help paying for medications associated with fertility treatment. A fertility specialist can tell you if you are eligible, or you can access the GAP Program by using the clinic locator to find a participating clinic in your area.

How will the diagnosis or subsequent treatments affect our relationship? Hearing the news that you or your partner is infertile can trigger a variety of emotional responses. For some people, the diagnosis is a minor obstacle and they continue toward treatment or choose other paths to parenthood. For others, infertility seems like an insurmountable complication and it can take its toll on a couple's bond or on a person's self-esteem. It is vital that you discuss the diagnosis with your partner to be sure you are on the same page before you make a decision.

Do I understand the success rates and risks involved for each option? Each person's fertility profile is unique, and there is no crystal ball that will reveal the ultimate outcome of your treatments. But there are statistics available that can give you a glimpse of your chances and outline the success rates and potential complications of the various procedures.


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