Infertility is hard. It taxes your body, your mind, and at times, even your relationship. Never mind the daunting costs many couples face when they finally decide to seek fertility treatments. If you're ready to seek help after a year or more of trying for a baby, know that there is hope. Even seemingly intractable fertility issues are highly treatable, and more than 80% of couples who struggle with infertility eventually conceive a child.
This doesn't mean you can just blindly choose any fertility clinic. The wrong fertility clinic can waste your time and money, either by giving you false hope or false doubt. Don't just choose a clinic because your friend used it or because it's the most popular one. Dig deeply, asking lots of questions and trusting your gut.
Ask for Statistics
Ultimately, you're pursuing treatment for one reason, and one reason only: to make a baby. So it doesn't matter if the office is beautiful and the staff is nice if the clinic you've chosen has a low success rate (though those things can be nice too!). Don't allow yourself to be swayed by a spa-like setting and false promises. Instead, ask for hard data. Don't shy away from asking your provider how likely it is that you will get pregnant, and what results the clinic has previously achieved with cases similar to your own.
Clinics that perform in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures are required to maintain success statistics. The average success rate is about 1 in 4 pregnancies for every IVF procedure, though individual factors can alter your odds of success. If your clinic's success rate is much lower than this figure, consider choosing a different provider.
Meet With Providers
Doctors are scientists, but they are also people. And good scientists form meaningful human connections, asking intelligent questions and paying attention to how mental health affects physical health and fertility. Ask if you can meet with the doctors with whom you will be working—even if you have to pay for an initial consultation. Ask yourself whether you feel comfortable working with this person, whether he or she seems invested in your case, and whether you are able to openly share your concerns.
A doctor who rushes you may miss important details, just as a doctor who pushes a one-size-fits-all approach may neglect to give you the treatment plan that best comports with your needs.
Ask Who Will Be Working Your Case
Even if the doctors you meet are impressive and professional, they can't do much to help you if they're not working your case! Ask which providers and staff members will be working on your case, and whom you should call with any questions. You should ensure you feel comfortable with your primary point of contact, and that the providers who are working on your case are competent, experienced fertility experts.
Evaluate the Clinic Environment
Whether or not the secretary is nice might not affect whether you get pregnant. But it can absolutely alter how you feel about your journey. Infertility is challenging enough; you shouldn't have to feel abused or embarrassed every time you call or go into the clinic. Choose a facility that offers friendly, competent staff, a comfortable waiting area, clean exam rooms, and a team that seems truly invested in you. After all, a clinic that takes the time to ensure you have a good experience—beginning with your first phone call—is a clinic that is fully invested in you and your family.
Read Reviews and Check Reputations
Online reviews cannot tell you everything, particularly in a world where people can pay for those reviews. Moreover, reviewers tend to write reviews based on outcomes, which can't always be controlled. So don't use online reviews as your sole basis for a selection, since some of the best providers might have no reviews at all. But if you notice many negative reviews that repeat a common theme—such as a doctor who ignores his patients' wishes, a nurse who insults patients, or a phlebotomist who makes blood work extremely painful—you may want to consider another clinic.
Learn About the Doctors
A skilled doctor will partner with you, diligently working to understand the specific cause of your infertility, then crafting a customized treatment plan. The best treatment plans include lifestyle changes, and may even incorporate alternative care, such as acupuncture. Learn as much as you can about the doctors with whom you will be working to ensure they are truly committed to patient success. Checking their reputation online, reading their history with the state medical board, and even reading journal articles they have previously published can tell you a lot about your care team.
Do you have questions about your fertility journey? Download our free guide, The Simplified Guide to the Complicated World of Infertility and find all the answers you’re looking for.