Four things you must consider when choosing a fertility clinic and provider

I decided to have a fertility consultation a few months after I turned 30. I didn’t have an actual reason to and no one encouraged me to – I just thought it was one of those due diligence things to do.

Struggling with infertility is an overwhelming and emotionally difficult experience for many couples. On top of the stress of coping with a diagnosis of infertility, many couples feel unsure of how to choose a physician to help them on their journey to parenthood. It is important for a woman to find a qualified physician whom she feels comfortable with to help her understand her diagnosis and to start her on the pathway of beginning treatment. When choosing a fertility clinic and provider, here are four important factors to consider when looking for the best fertility clinic for you.

Qualifications
The qualifications of the physician and fertility clinic you are choosing are important. Physicians treating couples for infertility most commonly have completed an American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology approved fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility after completing a four-year residency program in Obstetrics and Gynecology. It is important that you ensure the physician you are choosing has met these qualifications.

Quality
The quality of the clinic you are choosing is also important, especially for treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). The equipment, protocols, and quality of a laboratory and embryology team can vary dramatically between clinics. In the United States, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) is a professional organization that collects data from IVF clinics to provide essential data on fertility treatment (www.sart.org). SART works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to verify and publish pregnancy data on IVF clinics in the United States annually. These data provide patients with reliable information on the likelihood of success with different treatment options. The SART website recommends against using the information to directly compare programs, since patient characteristics can vary among clinics. That being said, the information provides objective reporting regarding the number of treatment cycles performed by each clinic and the age of patients treated. This information lets patients know how much experience a particular clinic has with assisted reproductive technology, and the likelihood of achieving success in that program. The SART website also enables patients to search all fertility clinics in their area by inputting their zip code or state, allowing patients to find clinics near their home easily.

Accessibility
When choosing a fertility clinic, it is important to find out if they are open seven days a week. The timing of ovulation or monitoring that may need to be done for fertility treatment often does synchronize with the five day work week. The best fertility clinics are open seven days a week, ensuring that patient cycles are not be compromised, and that success is optimized.

Comfort
Lastly, a woman should find a physician and fertility clinic that she feels comfortable with. Some women rely on a referral from their OB/GYN with whom they've already developed a trusting relationship, with while others pick a physician by word of mouth or find a physician through their insurance carrier. We recommend that patients be their own advocate, find a convenient new patient appointment time for themselves (and if appropriate, their partner), and come armed with questions. Fertility clinics should be polite, responsive to your needs, and be responsive to your medical and emotional needs. By choosing a reputable fertility clinic where you feel comfortable, you can put some of your unease aside, and feel assured you are getting the best care possible to help achieve your goals of building a family.

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