Taking the step to see a fertility practitioner, whether your GP, a naturopathic doctor, your acupuncturist, or reproductive endocrinologist can feel a little intimidating. The appointment may have taken a while to schedule so when it finally gets here, there may understandably be a lot of nerves and anticipation. I want to make sure you know what to bring with you to your fertility appointment and have the tools to feel informed and empowered when you leave your appointment.
Three things to bring with you to your fertility appointment.
1. Hard copy of your records
Often, past blood work is scattered in different places. Some may be online, some may be in a portal. Some may have been requisitioned from a different doctor. While your practitioner should be able to access much of these via a release of records, this takes time. This can also prevent you from having your questions answered about your blood work or past imaging. For this reason, I suggest having hard copies of your records and bringing them with you. Circle or highlight areas you have questions about and bring them up with your practitioner. If you have lots of lots of past blood work or imaging, bring the most recent.
I also suggest bringing a list of all medications and supplements you are taking.
2. Menstrual tracking data
The menstrual cycle is a wonderful but complex interplay of hormones. The ebbs and flows of your hormones allow for a brief window of time, called your “peak fertility window”, for conception. Due to its complexity, hormones give us different signs and symptoms that help us formulate an assessment or a list of things we want to rule in/out. The most helpful tool for your practitioner is your menstrual cycle date. Here is a list of things to track:
- Cycle length: cycle length refers to the start of one cycle to the other. Cycle day 1 is considered the first day of full flow. A typical cycle length can range anywhere from 26-35 days. Different events of your cycle (i.e. ovulation, cervical mucus, PMS, spots, etc) should be noted on specified cycle days.
- Flow: How many days of flow do you have? Heavy or light? Colour? Clots?
- Any days of spotting? If so, when in your cycle. Be specific – note the cycle days’ this occurs.
- Did you use LH strips? What days of your cycle were positive.
- Do you track Basal body temperature? When do you ovulate?
- Do you notice cervical mucus?
- Do you experience PMS? If so what symptoms?
- Do you experience symptoms during menses? If so, what symptoms?
This list may seem long! Thankfully there are some pretty great apps that track many of these for you, making it quite easy. I like Kindara because you can switch to manual entry, and input data that are unique to you. It includes tracking of LH strips, cervical mucus, BBT, pregnancy tests, and more. You can also download PDF copies and bring that with you to your appointment.
3. Write your questions down before your appointment and bring them with you.
Often couples have been trying for a few or more cycles before seeking some help. Or, you’ve been waiting a few months for your first appointment at a fertility clinic. You may have some ideas of what may be going on, or have questions that have come up in the meantime. Write these down. It’s common to forget your questions during the appointment itself. A list of other questions I encourage include:
- What do you think is the issue?
- What are my options?
- What are other conditions we are also considering?
- What are the labs or imaging studies we need to rule things in or out?
- Do I need a referral? Should I start that referral process now so I don’t have to wait?
- What are the treatment considerations? What side effects might expect?
The goal is to have a collaborative conversation, and leave feeling educated, and empowered so that you can make informed choices.
Dr. Ashley Damm
Naturopathic Doctor- Vancouver, BC