No matter what your situation is, finding a physician takes time and careful consideration. This is an individual that you will be working with on an extremely personal level and you will want to be sure sure that you feel comfortable with them and can trust their judgement.
Not only that, you will want to find someone who:
- is affordable
- is located relatively close to your home and work
- you are able to reach easily if any questions arise
- has the experience and credentials that ensure you are receiving the quality of treatment that you deserve
There are a number of Houston fertility specialists to choose from, but not all of them will necessarily match up to the specific needs that you possess. In order to find the specialist that is right for you, assess the following factors. This way, when the times comes, you can be confident that you have made the right decision.
Insurance & Coverage
You (and possibly your partner) will need to assess your financial situation and what exactly is included in your insurance plan. If you are fortunate, you will have medical insurance that covers some (if not all) of your infertility treatments.
You can call the clinics that you are interested in directly and see if they accept your insurance. If they do not and you have to pay for your treatments out of pocket, check to see if the clinic has a finance department that will work with you and come up with a payment plan. Get the estimates of what these costs could potentially add up to, including:
- initial consultation
- additional costs (medications, outside procedures, embryo care, etc)
If your insurance doesn’t provide coverage for a certain clinic, the clinic does not offer payment plan options to you, and the prices are just too high for you, it simply does not make sense for you to look into that particular clinic any further. Move on and find a specialist that is in your price range or who is willing to find a way to make things work for you.
Many overlook if a specialist is a long trek from their house because their success rates are so promising or they have heard such great reviews that it seems worth it. However, this can create a terrible amount of stress for you very quickly. During your cycles you could be making this trip 3 times a week or more.
Consider what the distance would be from your home and from your place of work. You are going to have to fit appointments in at all different parts of the week. Don’t forget that driving hours to and from a clinic will not just be emotionally taxing, but will end up contributing greatly to your expenses as well.
Communication & Availability
Do not underestimate the value of a doctor with flexible hours. When observing the clinic’s hours of operation compare them with a normal week for you and see how well they align. People often find that they have to schedule their appointments in the middle of their workday multiple times a week.
As you can imagine, this could create some stress for your work life. Look for a specialist who is happy and willing to meet in the early morning hours or possibly on the weekends. Ask about the on-call policy during off hours so you know how difficult it could be to reach your doctor in case you have emergency questions that come up.
Finding yourself with a pressing question about medication or protocols and unable to reach your practitioner can be very frustrating. Make it a priority to set yourself up with the least amount of possibility for stress that you can.
You can learn a lot about a doctor from their success rates, reviews, and the reputation that they have built with their past and present patients. This will not only help you to discover how easy it has been for others to reach this doctor off hours, you will also be able to glean a lot about their personality and if they actually are able to live up to their credentials. It is more than acceptable and quite common to ask a fertility doctor for their success rates for the procedures that they are recommending to you, so no reason to be shy.
To find out real stats on a fertility center, you can visit The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology’s website where 85% of all US fertility clinics report their data. All fertility clinics are required by law to report their results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In order to gather more information on the specialist’s reputation, visit the clinic’s website and look for the reviews. If your OB/GYN recommended this person to you, ask them why. Investigate details about them, such as:
- Does this person do their research?
- Do they teach at a university or hospital?
- Are they fellowship trained?
- How much experience do they have?
- If they are a younger doctor, maybe they have more practice with newer, cutting edge treatments and technology.
- If they are older, their experience and success rates may win over your trust and confidence.
Exploring the factors mentioned above is essential, but at the end of the day, what matters most is that you really feel comfortable with your doctor. When you go in for your initial consultation, that is your chance to interview them. Pay attention to:
- how well they communicate
- if they explain the tests that you will need to have done and the treatment plan that they think could potentially help you
- if they are able to explain your chances realistically and truthfully
- if you feel listened to and that your questions are considered and answered fully
- if you feel safe and comfortable
Choosing a fertility specialist is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Don’t just jump at the first promising option that presents itself to you. Visit a few Houston fertility specialists first, take some notes, compare your selections, and then go from there.