A National Survey of Men and Women with Infertility Revealed 40% Did Not Know They Could Go Directly to a Fertility Specialist without the Need to Obtain a Referral

Share Article

Shady Grove Fertility and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, collaborative partners and strong advocates for improving access to care, launched a national survey to remind those struggling to conceive that they don’t need to wait for a referral from their physician in order to seek specialty care from a fertility specialist.

Eric Levens, M.D., of Shady Grove Fertility's Annandale, VA, office

The primary message we wish to convey to people trying to get pregnant is to seek a fertility assessment early in order to have the best chances of pregnancy. Identifying and treating potential problems early puts more time on your side.

Shady Grove Fertility, the largest fertility center in the nation, partnered with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association to host a national patient survey to better understand how patients access fertility treatment and ascertain if patients realize that, in the vast majority of cases, they can self-refer to a fertility specialist, rather than wait for a primary care physician to refer them.

Findings of the national survey of nearly 200 respondents revealed that approximately 40 percent of patients did not realize they could see a fertility specialist without the referral of an OB/GYN or primary care physician. With this information, Shady Grove Fertility hopes to raise awareness that couples who are trying to have a baby don’t need to wait, they can take action into their own hands and schedule a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist directly.

“Patients are often surprised to learn that Shady Grove Fertility does not require a referral from an OB/GYN or primary physician to be seen by a reproductive endocrinologist in one of our offices. I should mention, while a referral is not needed to be seen by an SGF physician, some insurance providers do require a physician referral for reimbursement. For patients who are unsure if they need a referral, a general rule of thumb is the following: HMO plans from any provider, along with United Healthcare’s MDIPA and Optimum Choice and Kaiser, will likely require a referral in order for the consultation to be covered by insurance. Patients, in these cases, can receive a referral by simply calling their primary care physician or OB/GYN,” says Angela Tablada, Shady Grove Fertility’s Patient Financial Services Manager.

The MD Mandate also creates access for patients to seek fertility care. The Maryland Insurance Article Section 15-810, "Benefits for In Vitro Fertilization," requires health and hospital insurance policies issued within the state that provide pregnancy benefits to also cover the cost of in vitro fertilization (IVF). There is a limit of three IVF attempts per live birth; not to exceed a maximum lifetime benefit of $100,000.

Shady Grove Fertility participates with a large network of over 30 insurance providers. The financial service representatives at Shady Grove Fertility are integral members of the patient care team and their core mission is to enhance the patient experience. Their goal is to make the financial aspects of the process as manageable, understandable, and transparent as possible. Financial counselors at Shady Grove Fertility, in particular, are dedicated to helping patients fully understand and maximize their insurance benefits.

At Shady Grove Fertility, in accordance to guidelines set forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), recommends females under the age of 35 who have regular cycles and have not conceived after 12 months of unprotected sex, to see a fertility specialist. Women 35 to 39 who have regular cycles and have not conceived after 6 months of unprotected sex are advised to see a fertility specialist, and women age 40 and older who have regular cycles and have not conceived after 3 months of unprotected sex are advised to see a fertility specialist.

Conditions that warrant seeing a fertility specialist earlier than these guidelines state include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles (a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS), severely painful periods, or no period on a regular basis (monthly)
  • A history of pelvic surgery (such as the removal of an ovarian cyst, ablation of endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, tubal surgery, or ruptured appendix)
  • Diagnosis of endometriosis
  • When basic treatment, often clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene), has not resulted in pregnancy after 3-4 failed Clomid cycles
  • When known male factor exists; including if the male has trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, or is unable to ejaculate in the vagina
  • Known sterilization procedures (tubal ligation or vasectomy)
  • Two or more miscarriages
  • If a complex medical condition exists, we recommend counseling about the risks of pregnancy prior to conceiving. While the condition may not preclude pregnancy, it’s best to discuss.
  • If the male or female has a family history of a genetic disorder, it may affect the couple’s ability to conceive.
  • While individuals in a same-sex relationship may not necessarily be infertile, the couple should still have an evaluation and will often need assistance building their families.

“The primary message we wish to convey to people trying to get pregnant is to seek a fertility assessment early in order to have the best chances of pregnancy. Identifying and treating potential problems early puts more time on your side,” says Dr. Eric Levens, of Shady Grove Fertility’s Annandale, VA office.

About Shady Grove Fertility (SGF)
Shady Grove Fertility is a leading fertility and IVF center of excellence offering patients individualized care, innovative financial options, and pregnancy rates among the highest of all national centers. 2017 commemorates more than 25 years of Shady Grove Fertility providing medical and service excellence to patients from all 50 states and 35 countries around the world, including its newest expansion to Santiago, Chile in August 2017. Today, with 41 physicians supported by a highly specialized team of more than 750 Ph.D. scientists, geneticists, and staff caring for patients in 28 offices throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., we celebrate over 40,000 babies born—more than any other center in the United States. Shady Grove Fertility physicians actively train residents and reproductive endocrinology fellows and invest in continuous clinical research and education to advance the field of reproductive medicine through numerous academic appointments and partnerships such as Georgetown Medical School, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the University of Maryland, and the National Institutes of Health. Nearly 2,000 physicians refer their patients to Shady Grove Fertility each year. For more information, call 1-888-761-1967 or visit ShadyGroveFertility.com.

About RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, established in 1974, is dedicated to ensuring that all people challenged in their family building journey reach resolution through being empowered by knowledge, supported by community, united by advocacy, and inspired to act. RESOLVE exists to provide: Access to Care; Advocacy for Coverage; Access to Support & Community; Access to Education; Awareness of All Family Building Options.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Courtney Flantzer

Sarah Hudson
Follow >
Shady Grove Fertility Center
since: 05/2008
Like >
Follow us on
Visit website