When you’re choosing a fertility clinic, it helps to do your homework. It might seem at first glance like all fertility clinics are the same, however each treatment facility is unique and certain ones may have characteristics that make some patients feel more comfortable.
Infertility and the treatment process can be an emotional and mentally taxing process, and the goal when choosing a doctor and clinic is to find one that you feel comfortable going through that journey with.
Additionally, science and technology play a big role in the fertility treatment process; understanding some of the differences between how some clinics do things is important for every patient to understand.
So in order to make sure that you get this decision right the first time around, we composed a list of the questions that you should consider when researching fertility clinics.
Hopefully these questions—and our explanations—will help you to find the right fertility clinic for you.
1. Are your doctors trained and board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, as well as Obstetrics and Gynecology?
While your doctor may offer fertility services, many may only have completed training in general Obstetrics and Gynecology.
A “Fertility Specialist” trains for an additional 2-3 years to become a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist, only after completing four years of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency.
Still, only a portion of those have completed their Board Certification in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, as well as Obstetrics and Gynecology from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. You want to make sure that your doctors have this highest level of training and expertise in their field.
2. What are your success rates?
An important consideration is the clinic’s success rates, particularly for In Vitro Fertilization. The number of live birth rates (not just pregnancies) is the important number to look at. Although these are key statistics to know, it’s important to understand that many factors can affect these results, so this alone shouldn’t determine where you seek care, however it is a good discussion point for you and your doctor.
3. What sort of technology do you use?
Fertility is a scientifically evolving field, so it’s important that you find a clinic that uses and offers the most up-to-date reproductive technologies, such as embryo genetic testing (i.e., CCS/PGS) and tissue cryopreservation (i.e., egg freezing).
The advent of embryo biopsy over the last few years has offered the ability to better select embryos that are more likely to lead to a live birth, by eliminating chromosomally abnormal embryos from being transferred (ex Down’s syndrome Trisomy 21). Various techniques have been used to perform this analysis from the embryo biopsy, however the latest technique called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is being used by the most up-to-date clinics.
4. What are the number of single embryo transfers performed versus double embryo transfers for In Vitro Fertilization?
As IVF technology improves, single embryo transfers show similarly high success rates compared to double embryo transfers. Additionally, the use of techniques such as PGS allows for better embryo selection, making single embryo live birth rates higher than in years past.
Although many think having twins would be a more efficient way to build their family, the disadvantage is the risks of preterm birth, fetal loss, and childhood disability that are higher with twins than singleton pregnancies. Singleton pregnancies also result in lower risks to the mother and have a greater chance in being delivered vaginally.
5. Is genetic screening offered?
Genetic carrier screening is an important part of the fertility evaluation. Discussing these options and your doctor’s recommendations regarding it is an important part of your preconception evaluation, pregnancy, and IVF treatments. Such services can help ensure the best chance of a healthy outcome for your future pregnancy.
6. Do you have a plan of action?
After speaking to a fertility specialist, you should have an idea of next steps and a general timeline of how long things will take. A key component of deciding whether the fertility clinic is right for you is whether you feel comfortable with this plan of action. If it is not, or you don’t feel comfortable to follow up with the fertility clinic staff or your doctor, then you should consider another clinic where you do.
7. Will insurance cover this?
For many folks, this is the most important, and perhaps the only question that they ask a fertility clinic. They might choose a clinic just because it’s covered by their insurance.
Although financial considerations play a big role in the treatment process, the clinics that take your particular insurance may not be the ones that you feel the most comfortable with.
Some fertility clinics have financial service specialists that can help you understand what your insurance will cover, even if the clinic doesn’t take your insurance policy at an out-of- network rate. You may find these rates to be acceptable and could choose a clinic that makes you happier in every other aspect.
8. How do you support your patients through this journey?
Good doctors are important. There’s no denying that. You want a doctor that is empathetic, honest and available; however, when all is said and done, you’re also going to want a team of fertility clinic staff members who are going to be there for you emotionally—through the good times and bad. Fertility treatment is a mentally and emotionally draining experience, and finding a clinic that you feel will be there to celebrate the smallest of wins with you and be a shoulder to cry on if things don’t go as planned, is key.
Making Your Decision
Finding the right fertility clinic is challenging and can feel overwhelming. With so many clinics to choose from and so many things to consider, how do you know which clinic to go with?
First, take the time to really do your homework. Some clinics are much larger than others, which comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Deciding what works best for you and your partner is important.
Check out the website of each fertility clinic that you’re considering. Research the doctors. And when it comes time for your first appointment, make a list of the questions that you want to ask (like the ones in this blog post). If the doctor/clinic you’re meeting with doesn’t make you feel comfortable and eager to move forward on the fertility treatment journey, then meeting another physician at another clinic might be in your best interest.
You’ll be spending a decent amount of time at whichever fertility clinic you choose, so making sure you feel comfortable with its staff members (nurses, medical assistants, front office staff) is important.
Want to check out our clinic? We might be the right fit for you! Feel free to schedule an appointment, and we can set something up soon. We’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have.