General Health

From Your Fertility Doctor: “5 Questions I Wish My Patients Would Ask”

Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG
Serena H. Chen, MD, is Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Dr. Chen also serves as Director of Third Party Reproduction at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas. Visit Dr. Chen's personal blog to keep up with her latest thoughts & musings.
Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG

@DrSerenaHChen

Serena H Chen MD, Director Reproductive Medicine at IRMS at Saint Barnabas. Top Fertility Doc, NY Magazine 2013-2016 and NJ Monthly 2007-2017
#FlipTheScript #NIAW2018 Remember that 1 in 8 struggle with #infertility and 1 in 4 suffer #miscarriage Help raise… https://t.co/JjxXkvk1oP - 14 hours ago
Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG
Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG

Latest posts by Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG (see all)

Have you ever stopped yourself from asking your doctor a specific question? This post discusses the top five questions a fertility doctor wishes her patients would ask her – reproductive endocrinologist & infertility doctor Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG offers a different perspective on fertility care with this piece.

If you’re trying to conceive and are seeking the care of a reproductive endocrinologist & infertility doctor, consider these questions to create a more personal rapport with your doctor.

From Your Reproductive Endocrinologist / Infertility Doctor:  5 Questions I Wish My Patients Would Ask Me

After over twenty years of taking care of patients, I realize that patients often do not ask me the questions that are really on their minds.  Of course, I try to tease that out when I meet with you and make sure I address the most common questions that patients in your situation ask.

But still, many patients walk out the door with unanswered questions. Wouldn’t you feel better if I just addressed ALL your questions? This is what I’m here for, please just ask!

Interested in seeing things from the doctor’s perspective? Consider these five types of questions I really wish my patients would ask…

1. Ask Me The Questions You’re Really Wondering & Thinking About

If you think you might have cancer, then ask me: “Dr Chen, I’m worried that I might have cancer. Do I?”.

If you think that you are not having sex at the right time to conceive, then ask me: “Dr Chen, when is the best time to have sex in order to have the best chance to conceive a baby?”

No question is off limits or is something that I haven’t been asked before.  The only stupid questions are the ones left unasked.  (Sorry guys, but no, you don’t need to have sex twice a day, every day, in order to have a baby).

>> What types of questions are on your mind that you haven’t asked your doctor? Ask them in the comments below

2. Ask Me Any & Every Crazy Question Your Family Has Asked You

You’ve made the really big, and somewhat scary, decision to come see me for help conceiving, to consider freezing your eggs, because you think your hormones may be out of whack, or because you might need surgery.

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Don’t undermine your confidence and resolve by failing to get all the questions hanging in the air answered, including your loved one’s questions. It is hard enough to proceed with treatment without having others questioning your decisions.

For goodness sake, instead of pulling your hair out every time your mom asks if your man’s bike shorts are too tight, just ask! I’ll give you the best answers out there. If that’s not good enough, drag your mom in so I can meet her.

If she likes and trusts me too, your life will be much easier, and couldn’t you use all the support you can get right now? (No, his bike shorts are not too tight, his sperm will not be affected by tight clothing, and I’m glad he’s exercising).

>> What questions are your friends or family bothering you about?  Let us know in the comments below

3. Ask Me What You Can & Should Do To Make Your Treatment Go As Well As It Can

Your general health has a huge impact upon your reproductive health. My job is to help you conceive a healthy baby or to help you freeze the best eggs etc. The healthier you are, the easier it is to help you reach your goal.

I will never forget the 5 foot 2 inch tall, 300+ pound woman who looked me straight in the eye and said “But nothing is wrong with me! I don’t understand why I can’t conceive!” And this was after considerable counseling from me about healthy weight loss.

You know these things. Many of you don’t ask, perhaps because you don’t want to hear the answers. Yes, diet soda is bad for you. Yes, smoking kills your eggs and sperm. Yes, you should be getting regular exercise.

Your enthusiastic participation in becoming as healthy as you can be will go a long way to improving your chances of success and will dramatically lower complication rates whether you are trying to conceive or having surgery. (Yes, you really do need to stop all that whiskey drinking in the hot tub).

>> What are your unhealthy habits?  Everyone has some.  Share them in the comments below and tell us your strategy for change.

4. Ask Me Why I Am Recommending This Particular Treatment / Course of Action For You

I want you to understand where I’m coming from. I want you to know what I think and what the pros and cons are. I want you to be informed. I want you on board with your treatment, both heart and mind.

You can only do that if you understand why I’m making the recommendations I make. You may have come in with some preconceived notions and ideas and it can be difficult to let go of these. Even if you completely agree with my recommendations, I still feel that your treatment will go a lot more smoothly and your stress levels will be a lot less if you understand the process as well as you can.

You will be living with the consequences of these decisions for the rest of your life. Your active participation and understanding will prevent regrets later. (Yes, a baby can be exhausting. No, you cannot return the baby).

>> What aspects of your treatment are you confused about? Let’s discuss them in the comments below

5. Ask Me For A Recommendation For A Therapist That Can Help You With Stress Management

Yes! I’m serious! See the therapist! No I don’t think you are crazy, but I do know that you are in my office for a reason and that reason causes a tremendous amount of stress no matter how grounded and well-adjusted you are.

We have many studies demonstrating that while stress does not cause infertility, infertility causes huge amounts of stress. Really awful stress. Pathologic stress.  Stress that leads to clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Stress that leads to marital issues, even divorce.  Stress that affects parents even after a healthy baby is born. We don’t want to make healthy babies while making our patients mentally unhealthy.

Counseling patients on stress management really works. We have the data to prove it. No, we’re not taking about lying on a couch for years analyzing how your mother toilet trained you. We’re talking healthy stress management strategies because medical treatment is very stressful and the better you handle the stress the more successful your treatment will be. Yes! There is data! Lots if it! Please consider.  Please. (It’s ok if you are a little bit crazy, I’ll still take good care of you. :-))

>> Do you see a therapist? If yes, why? And has it been helpful? If not, why not? Tell us about it in the comments

OK. Enough yakking. Back to work making babies and freezing eggs. I can’t wait to hear what you think of my suggestions. Have any questions you were too nervous to ask your Reproductive Endocrinologist? Leave them in the comments below.  I really want to hear from you – please write!

Xoxox
Serena H. Chen, MD

Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG
Serena H. Chen, MD, is Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Dr. Chen also serves as Director of Third Party Reproduction at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas. Visit Dr. Chen's personal blog to keep up with her latest thoughts & musings.
Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG

@DrSerenaHChen

Serena H Chen MD, Director Reproductive Medicine at IRMS at Saint Barnabas. Top Fertility Doc, NY Magazine 2013-2016 and NJ Monthly 2007-2017
#FlipTheScript #NIAW2018 Remember that 1 in 8 struggle with #infertility and 1 in 4 suffer #miscarriage Help raise… https://t.co/JjxXkvk1oP - 14 hours ago
Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG
Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG

Latest posts by Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG (see all)

Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG

Serena H. Chen, MD, FACOG

Serena H. Chen, MD, is Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Dr. Chen also serves as Director of Third Party Reproduction at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas. Visit Dr. Chen's personal blog to keep up with her latest thoughts & musings.

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4 Comments

  1. RIACHI
    March 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Great job! Excellent questions and answers in a format and content that covers it with reach to every concern addressed …

  2. March 12, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Dr.chen
    Have you helped patients have vitro at 41 successfully. Is it a good bit?
    Thx

    • March 15, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Dear Lucy
      Absolutely, although infertility is very common at age 41 the treatments are getting more successful every day. Of course each person is different and you owe it to yourself to at least talk with a board certified reproductive endocrinologist so you can get a clearer picture of what is possible in your individual situation.
      Thanks so much for your email.
      Hope this helps
      Best of luck to you
      Serena H. Chen, MD
      serenachen.md.com