Why I visited a fertility doctor even though I’m not ready for kids

 Illustration by  Fannie Pan  for Celmatix.

Illustration by Fannie Pan for Celmatix.

WHY I VISITED A FERTILITY DOCTOR EVEN THOUGH I’M NOT READY FOR KIDS

I’m 29, single, and not ready to start a family, but visiting an RE was one of the best decisions I made.


 

As far back as my teen years, infertility was a nagging fear in the back of my mind. I half-jokingly attribute my initial anxiety to watching too much Sex & the City, as Charlotte’s struggles with infertility really stuck with me. My fears weren’t grounded in much, but they were real.

Later, as I entered my late 20s with a busy career and without any serious prospects for a romantic partner, this anxiety moved to the front of my mind; I realized if I wasn’t in a position to start a family in a few years, my desire for children could be in jeopardy. This terrified me, particularly because it felt so out of my control.

I also felt very alone, as the majority of my female friends did not seem to share my concerns, even if they shared my circumstances.

 

While I researched and seriously considered freezing my eggs, I heard my friends get upset when they saw targeted Instagram ads for the service.

 

Sometime during this research, I read that an RE or OB-GYN can perform basic tests to give you initial information about your fertility. This seemed like a great first step for me, as I desperately wanted more information to help me decide if I should freeze my eggs.

The next time I visited my OB-GYN, I brought up these tests. To my disappointment, she seemed confused about why I wanted to learn about my fertility if I didn’t want to get pregnant in the near future. Nonetheless, she referred me to an RE who could give more guidance.

So, I bit the bullet: I made an appointment for a consultation at a fertility center. It felt a bit strange, as I didn’t know anyone in my age range or circumstances who had done this, but I was cautiously excited to find out what I could learn.

When I arrived at the clinic for my appointment, I immediately noticed a few things: while the majority of the waiting room crowd appeared older than me, and also included a lot of couples, I didn’t feel entirely out of place as a 29 year old single woman. Also, the space was thoughtfully designed and even calming, which showed the clinic understood its visitors’ potentially heightened nerves.

My appointment started by meeting the doctor in her office. I appreciated the conversational nature of talking to her at her desk, fully clothed, rather than in a gown on an examining table; it helped me relax and speak more casually. But more importantly, when I explained my reasons for seeing her, she didn’t bat an eye. The fact that my situation seemed fairly routine to her brought me great relief.

After some initial discussion about my overall health, lifestyle, and fertility goals, she recommended we start by running a few tests. First, she would do a vaginal ultrasound to look at my ovaries and see how many antral follicles I have; this would provide some initial insight into my “ovarian reserve,” or egg quantity. Next, she would do blood work to test my fertility-related hormone levels. These tests could both be done in the clinic that day and were minimally invasive.

After my ultrasound and blood work, which were both quick and painless, I made my final stop of the appointment at the finance office. There, the finance manager walked me through the cost of egg freezing and my benefits. She said that based on her review of my insurance plan, I had a 50–50 chance of getting some coverage for egg freezing; she also said she could submit a claim for pre-approval to get a better idea.

Over the next few weeks, I received my results: I had a normal number of antral follicles and normal hormone levels. However, my insurance denied my pre-approval for egg freezing. With a firmer idea of both my fertility health and the costs of egg freezing, I felt confident deciding not to freeze my eggs right now. If I’m still not in a position to start a family in a few years, I may reconsider.

 

As I made this decision, I reflected on how much calmer and less stressed I felt now that I had real information — not just speculation — guiding this decision.

 

Subsequently, I spread the word to my female friends about how both easy and helpful my appointment was, and a few of them told me they would consider making appointments of their own.

I’m proud to #SaytheFword. I wish more women knew that these initial treatment options exist and that pursuing them is less scary than you think; conversely, my visit helped ease some of my fertility fears. While taking steps to learn about your fertility may seem intimidating, we face enough barriers to fertility healthcare to let our own self-imposed barriers get in the way.