If you’re nervously waiting for your first fertility appointment following a referral from your GP and have no idea what to expect – you’ve come to the right place! I’ve been in your shoes so I know just how nerve wracking it can get and how much hell you’re putting yourself through by over-thinking things.
The unknown of a fertility journey can be a killer for your sanity. There’s a lot of waiting involved and the gap between your referral and actually stepping foot in a fertility clinic is no exception! If you’re anything like me, your mind will wander, playing out scenarios about what will happen at that first fertility appointment. Thoughts racing through your mind… ‘Will I be prodded and poked?’ ‘Will I walk out with a treatment plan?’ ‘How long until we start treatment?’ Yep…it certainly eats away at you!
Yet despite how much I built it up in my head, I found that the reality of the appointment was nothing like I expected. The hours I’d spent trawling through infertility accounts on Instagram and reading the infertility forums on Mumsnet just didn’t prepare me for what actually went down when we eventually got to our appointment.
So… if you find yourself in the same position as I did, keep reading! I’ll give you the lowdown on what to expect at your first fertility appointment.
Hopefully, not long after your GP has made the referral to a clinic, you’ll hear the sound of the appointment letter coming through your letterbox. Ours stated that the appointment should be attended by both of us and that we should be mindful that it could take up to three hours. We were to bring photographic ID and proof of address for both of us. Oh, and I should be prepared to have an ultrasound scan and potentially blood tests.
On the day of our appointment we met with a lovely fertility nurse for about an hour and half. The vast majority of that time was spent doing paperwork – confirming our identities, that we lived together and had been in a relationship for a suitable length of time. Our lifestyle was combed through (do we drink, smoke, suffer with our mental health/stress etc). We went through our medical histories and I was asked specifically about my cycles/symptoms of PCOS. I was taken into another room to be weighed (BMI can affect your eligibility for treatment) and whilst separated we were both asked about any domestic violence and whether we were being forced to attend under duress.
It was heavy going and intrusive, to be perfectly honest. I hadn’t expected to get such a grilling and even now, years down the line, I look back and think how naive I was. Of course, logically I understand that healthcare practitioners have a duty of care and must safeguard any potential babies born via assisted conception. But I was neither ready for the invasive questioning nor the amount of paperwork boxes that had to be ticked.
Straight after the session with the nurse, I was sent round to the blood clinic for some blood tests and Simon was given instructions to make another appointment to provide a second sample. He had already done one as directed by the GP in preparation for our referral, but our clinic wanted two samples 3 months apart. So he had to wait a couple of weeks for an appointment and then our follow up consultation was booked for a few weeks after that.
I should have also been scanned again (likewise, I’d been referred for a scan by the GP while awaiting our appointment at the fertility clinic) but the clinic’s ultrasound machine was broken. Story of my life! So I, too, left with a referral for another appointment. Luckily, the date came through surprisingly quickly and I was seen for a transvaginal ultrasound around 10 days later.
As we’d already confirmed with the GP, my ultrasound and blood results showed PCOS and Simon’s tests came back normal. No surprises there!
So in a nutshell, your first appointment will consist of: ID checks, signing paperwork, a chat about your medical history, an interrogation about your lifestyle, safeguarding and referrals for more tests. No next steps, no discussion of treatment. That’s saved for the next appointment with a doctor.