Getting a Second Opinion About Fertility Treatment
Fertility assessments require a multidisciplinary approach which usually begins with the primary care doctor. The primary care doctor may be a family doctor an internist or an obstetrics and gynaecologist. He or she may then refer you to a specialist who is trained to diagnose and treat your unique condition. Despite this level of expertise, it may still be beneficial to consult another specialist for a second opinion.
Although the practice of medicine is governed by strict moral and ethical principals, some doctors may differ in their approach. Fertility causes and treatments are so diverse, that a difference of opinion between medically trained doctors is not uncommon.
A second opinion facilitates the exploration of other treatment options, or at times offers a completely different diagnosis. Medical sub-specialties trained in the area of fertility, include, endocrinology, urology and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Even within these sub-specialties, there is further training specifically for fertility.
Be PreparedWhen deciding on a second opinion it is best to be prepared. It may be helpful to bring lab reports and/or diagnostic test reports such as X-rays, sonograms, etc. This consultation should be an open forum for you to discuss efficacy of treatment, side effects and even alternative options. It may even be helpful to request for literature which compares different treatment options and have the consultant explain the results and ramifications of such medical information.
Below is a list of questions you should ask your doctor when obtaining a second opinion. These questions should be addressed to the initial doctor as well as the consulting doctor. By addressing these questions to both doctors you can compare answers and help make a more confident and educated decision.
Questions to Ask the Doctor
- How effective is the proposed treatment
- Is the proposed treatment the best treatment option for my unique situation
- What are the major side effects
- How will the proposed treatment impact my present day life?
- What are some of the alternative treatment options
- What are the chances of conceiving naturally without any medical intervention?
- Will the proposed treatment option increase the risk of adverse effects to the baby
- Are there any potential long term effects to the proposed treatment
Aside from the physical demands, fertility treatments can also be emotionally and financially draining. Since so much is at stake, one should be absolutely certain of their diagnosis and treatment approach. Seeking a second opinion will often depend on the initial diagnosis, and the effected partner. If the infertility issue is discovered to be caused by the male partner, it may be helpful to seek the consultation of an urologist, or a reproductive endocrinologist who treats male infertility. Urology is a surgical sub-specialisation which requires additional post graduate training. They perform fertility procedures such as vasectomies, vasectomy reversals and microsurgeries. They may also perform biopsy procedures to asses for testicular cancer. Reproductive endocrinologists are experts in diagnosing and treating infertility, due to hormonal abnormalities.
For issues with female infertility, it is best to seek the advice of a doctor specially trained in fertility medicine. Fertility specialists are trained in performing special procedures, which require delicate skill and exquisite precision. Procedures such as Invitro fertilisation, Gamete- Intra Fallopian Transfers using sperm and/or eggs, can only be done by such doctors.
Regardless of the cause of infertility each doctor has their own approach to treatment and can be drastically different from other experts within the same field.