For a decision as important as which an infertility clinic or doctor to use, it is impossible for someone else to say what is the best for you. It is a decision that must be based on multiple factors, some more tangible than other.
You have to weigh success rates against practicality against a gut reaction to a clinic and its staff to ultimately find the doctor that is the right combination for you. The right doctor for you will not necessarily be the right doctor for someone else, and only you can decide who is right for you.
Ob/Gyns can treat infertility, but if you have been trying for a year (under 35), six months (35-40), or three to four months (over 40), at the very least you should get a second opinion from a board certified reproductive endocrinologist.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
- The Creating a Family Infertility Clinic Directory. These are clinics that believe in patient education enough to support Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education organization.
- Ask your Ob/Gyn, primary care doctor, or friends for recommendations for a reproductive endocrinologist.
- If asking family and friends feels too public for you right now, go online to the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group and ask for recommendations.
Before you delve too deeply into choosing a clinic, make sure the doctors and clinics you are considering are feasible options for you.
- Location – How close is the doctor or clinic to your home or work? Your partner’s work? Even if it’s convenient for you, you don’t want to choose a doctor that’s impossible for your partner to get to. How long does the trip take and how often will you have to make that trip?
- Schedules – When does the clinic offer appointments? Can they work around your schedule? If you work, do they have appointments in the evening or weekends? If not, what is your work’s policy on sick days? It doesn’t matter how good a clinic is if you can’t find the time for the appointment.
- Size – How many patients does the clinic treat? What is the doctor to patient ratio? How many cycles does the clinic administer per year? Larger clinics might offer more options and appointment times, but you run the risk of feeling like a number and not a person.
- Services Offered – What procedures does the clinic offer? How often are the procedures provided? Do they provide options for continuing treatments that they don’t provide? Are they familiar with the latest technology?
- Eligibility – Are you eligible for the procedure you want? Some clinics have age restrictions for all or some procedures. Others discriminate based on sexual orientation or marital status. Make sure that the doctor or clinic is willing to treat you. Be aware of unwritten prejudices as well. While a clinic might not have an actually policy discriminating against you, you don’t want to choose a clinic where you feel unwelcome.
- Cost – While it’s not the most important factor, the truth is that fertility treatment is expensive and for most people, price plays an important roll in making a decision. It’s good to know what the costs and payment options are so you can make an informed decision.
A clinic’s reputation is important. You don’t want just any doctor; you want the best doctor.Your first step is to check to see if there have been any complaints or disciplinary actions against your doctor. You have a couple of options:
- Search “medical board” and the state name in your favorite search engine to find the Medical Board for your state.
- Use a commercial service, such as HealthGrades, to provide a report on your doctor.
Ask current and former patients if they are satisfied with their treatment. Check the clinic’s IVF success rate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and it is okay to appear paranoid. If the staff seems annoyed by questions or is unwilling to answer certain questions, that is a big red flag. You are entrusting these people to help you create you family; it’s your right to be as well informed as you can.
What Does Your Gut Say? Impressions and Opinions
Success rates and reviews are easy to rely on, but your internal impression of a doctor or clinic is also important. Over the coming months, you will be spending a lot of time with and placing a lot of faith in your doctor, and it is important that you feel comfortable with them.
Schedule an initial appointment and talk with the RE at the clinics you are considering. This is the time to ask the questions mentioned above, but also pay attention to people’s attitude and demeanor. Remember, you’re looking for more than just the number IVF cycles completed in the last year. You’re also trying to gauge if you like them and trust them to help you create your family. Take the time to analyze if you would enjoy working with them. How helpful were they? How willing were they to answer your questions? Did you feel rushed? Don’t ignore your instincts.
Creating a Family has many resources on Finding an Infertility Doctor or Clinic. A few we think you will find particularly helpful are:
- Practical Tips for Choosing an Infertility Clinic (blog post)
- Are Fertility Clinic Waiting Rooms Depressing to You? (blog post)
- Top Ten Tips for Choosing an Infertility Clinic or Doctor (fact sheet)
- Preparing for Your First Visit to an Infertility Clinic (1 hr. radio show/podcast with experts)
- How to Choose an Infertility Clinic (downloadable multi-media guide)
Many more Creating a Family radio interviews with experts, videos, blogs, fact sheets, and Q and A’s with Experts on finding an infertility doctor can be found at the icons below.