So you’re under 35 and you’ve been trying to conceive for a year or more with no success, or you’re 35 or older and have been trying for six months. You’ve been to your OB/GYN and had a few tests, and your partner has been checked out by an urologist.
The next step is to consult a fertility specialist and find out if you have a problem—what its is and how it can be fixed, what your options are for fertility treatments, so you can make an informed decision on how to build your family.
We Know We Need Help Getting Pregnant, but Where to Go
There are a lot of fertility clinics out there and a lot of information. How do you decide which clinic is right for you? Here are some important questions to help you do your homework and help you think about what really matters to you.
What’s Their Delivery Rate/Live Birth Rate?
This is the most meaningful success rate, sometimes called the take-home baby rate. Many fertility clinics publish their success rates and focus on clinical pregnancy rate, which does not take into account any miscarriages. What’s important to you is delivery of a healthy baby. Do remember, however, that some clinics will not take higher-risk patients, which may make their success rates higher than those of clinics which take a broader range of patients.
Which Procedures Do They Do, and How Often?
You may be able to find this information on the clinic’s website, or you may have to ask them. You should be able to get other procedures at the clinic in addition to IVF if you need them, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to help fertilize the egg, cryopreservation, egg donation and genetic screening, among others.
How Long Has the Fertility Clinic Been in Business? Who is the Medical Director?
Stability and breadth of experience are the watchwords here. What kind of experience does the medical director have and what is his or her reputation? Does the clinic belong to SART, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies? SART members comply with medical and ethical standards set by the organization and work to advance the field of assisted reproductive technology. How many cycles have they done? A fertility clinic with a longer history and more cycles may have treated patients with a wider range of conditions than a smaller or newer clinic.
Is the Fertility Clinic Conveniently Located?
If you decide to commit to fertility treatment you will need to visit the clinic a number of times during each IVF cycle. Some large fertility clinics have remote offices for monitoring so you don’t have to go to the main clinic where the surgical center and embryology lab are for every visit, but you will have to go there for egg retrieval and embryo implantation. A convenient location will help lessen disruption to your normal routine.
Can Your Friends or Your Gynecologist Refer You?
You may have friends who have had successful IVF treatments and are eager to tell you about the fertility clinic and fertility doctor they used. Another source is your OB/GYN. Usually gynecologists are familiar with the fertility specialists in their area and are willing to recommend a clinic or a specific doctor. You should also check your insurance coverage, as certain plans may require a referral from the OB/GYN to the fertility specialist for even the most basic testing.
Do You Have Any Preferences?
Look at the clinic staff on their website. In many cases each fertility doctor is profiled. Do you have strong feelings about having a female doctor or a male one, number of years of experience, or where they were educated and trained?
What About Health Insurance Coverage and Financing of Treatment?
In some states health insurance is required to cover at least part of the costs of fertility treatment. In other states fertility treatment is not covered. You should check your own plan first and Yyou can ask the clinic if they accept your health insurance and, if so, what is covered. Most fertility clinics will offer various kinds of financing for treatment. Some of the plans require up-front payment for a set number of IVF and frozen cycles. Other plans, like WINFertility’s Treatment and Medication Bundles, give discounted rates on a per-cycle basis with financing options. You don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty with a clinic before you visit, but it is a good idea to find out if they have financing available before you commit to treatment with them.
What Are Your Chances of Getting Pregnant?
Success rates are compiled from hundreds or even thousands of individuals. What matters most are your personal chances of having a baby. When you meet with a fertility doctor, ask for an honest assessment of what your options are, costs, and what the likely outcome is. Ask if the clinic has treated patients at your age and what the results have been. No one can guarantee that in vitro fertilization treatments will result in a baby but a fertility specialist can tell you the probable result, based on their experience with other patients like you.