Are you looking for treatment to help you or your partner get pregnant? Then choosing the right infertility clinic must be on the top of your mind. There are innumerable fertility clinics to choose from. In this case you will need as much help as you can get in choosing the right one.
What is an infertility clinic?
An infertility clinic is a specialized clinic that works with couples, singles, as well as same sex couples to help improve their chances of having children. When couples fail to or cannot have a baby naturally their doctor may recommend them to an infertility clinic. This is done in order to get thorough testing done to establish the cause.
An infertility clinic can offer a complete testing service and can then advise you on the options for infertility treatment.
What are the different types of infertility clinics?
There exists a whole range of infertility clinics for you to choose from. There is no way to generalize these clinics as no two are exactly alike. Some of the types include:
- Sole practitioners
- Small practices with 2 – 8 member physicians
- Large, full-service practices
- Fertility networks
- University-based clinics
- Hospital-based clinics
There are pros and cons to each type of fertility clinic. Before you select on the kind you want to use make sure you have done your homework about it. We will give you some tips here on what points to consider.
Are there any mental preparations that my partner and I need to take?
Before you even start searching for the right infertility clinic, you need to be clear about what to expect. The whole process is going to be one emotional ride for both your partner and you. So be clear about what your expectations are and how far are you willing to continue.
The infertility tests and treatment procedures can cost you a great deal of money, so be sure you really are up for it before committing to it. It is also good to discuss with your partner, ahead of time, how far you are willing to go with the procedure.
You also need to be prepared in case the treatments don’t yield any results. Know your and your partner’s emotional limits well in advance so that you don’t end up signing up for something you don’t want or cannot afford.
Choosing An Infertility Clinic
What to look for when choosing an infertility clinic?
Once you have decided to go forward with the infertility treatment, remember to do your homework well in advance. Choosing the right infertility clinic should be a researched decision and not a spur of the moment one. Here are a few points for you to consider:
This factor can be further sub-divided into:
- Health Insurance
Cost: It is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an infertility clinic. Costs will not only vary on your specific circumstance, but also from clinic to clinic. Instead of making your decision solely on the cost, find out what is included in the price given by each clinic. Compare the inclusions available for the price instead of just the price.
While the cost factor is most definitely an important aspect, don’t let it be the determining factor in your selection.
Health Insurance: If you have health insurance find out whether your policy covers fertility procedures. Even if certain procedures such as IVF is not covered by your policy, it may include fertility diagnostic procedures.
In either case, if you want to make use of your coverage, you must choose a clinic that is covered by your insurance plan.
Does the clinic offer the treatment that is best for you? What about other services you may want such as a support group or free counselling? Ask yourself these questions for all your potential infertility clinic choices. Narrow down your options based on the ones which closely meet your requirements.
It is very important to have a validated record of the success rate of the clinic that you are considering. Remember to get the most recent data and figures. This is because a clinic may have had a great success rate in the past, but over the years it may have deteriorated.
It is always good to start with hard numbers and figures instead of the glossy pictures and snazzy brochures. Factors that contribute to the success rate of an infertility clinic include:
- Physicians and staff at the clinic
- Updated training
When selecting the infertility clinic be sure to get the latest numbers and figures with regards to the above factors. While a majority of clinics publish their success rates on their websites, some do not. It is always good to ask for the latest numbers and compare them with your other choices before making the final decision.
Eligibility for treatment:
There are certain clinics that have age and Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria for treatment. There are others that entertain private patients only. Once you have shortlisted the names of the possible infertility clinics, it is always a good idea to call each one and find out whether they have any special criteria for treatments. This way you will have enough time in your hands to look for an alternative in case you fail to meet the criteria for your desired clinic.
You can also usually find the criteria for treatment mentioned in the clinic’s website. If you have any queries it is best to call and ask yourself instead of relying on second -hand information.
Location and Timings:
How convenient is the location? If you choose a clinic that is further away, you may be able to have certain treatments at a local hospital (known as a satellite or transport centre). This will save you travelling to the clinic for every test and treatment, making it more convenient.
You may also want to choose a clinic which has opening times that are most convenient for you – for example, a clinic which offers early morning appointments.
When you contact or visit the clinic, think about how you feel there and about the way staff treat you. Ask lots of questions so you feel fully informed about the treatment they are recommending. If possible, talk to other patients to hear their personal experiences of the clinic.
Some of the questions you can ask at the clinic are:
- What are the benefits of the treatment you’ve recommended and why do you think it’s the best option for me?
- How many patients at your clinic have had this treatment in the last two years, and how many of them have become pregnant/had a baby?
- Are there alternative treatments? If so, what do they involve, and why do you think they are less suitable for me?
- What other options are available to me if this treatment doesn’t work?
- How does my age affect the choice of fertility treatment?
- What drugs will I have to take, and what are the usual side effects they might have?
- Are there any alternatives to the drugs you have mentioned?
- Can you break down all the costs involved in this treatment? Are there any other costs that might arise? (Your clinic should provide you with a costed treatment plan.)
- Is there any way these costs can be reduced?
- What lifestyle changes can I make to boost my chance of success (eg, diet, exercise, stopping smoking, etc)? How will these help?
- What kind of counselling or advice service do you provide? Is there a cost for this, or how many free sessions can I have?
- Does this clinic have a patient support group I can join, or are there other groups you would recommend?
- Could you tell me more about the assessment process you will need to carry out before giving me the go ahead for treatment (this is sometimes known as the ‘welfare of the child’ assessment)?
- What happens next? Do I (and/or my partner) need to do anything now?
Cycles of treatment attempted
Find out how many cycles or rounds of treatment each clinic attempts before suggesting another approach or stopping the treatment altogether. This will help you gain a realistic timeline regarding your procedure.
Support Groups and counselling:
Infertility treatment can be an emotionally charged journey for both you and your partner. Having the emotional and moral support in such a time is essential in the welfare of those undergoing infertility treatment.
Talking to others who are going through or have undergone similar situations is very important when going through fertility treatment.
Some clinics offer the services of a counselor free of cost while others charge for it. When researching clinics, you may want to ask about this and whether they have any support groups you can join.
As you can see, there are a variety of factors to weigh when selecting a fertility clinic that is right for you. After doing your research, in the end, it is very important to listen to your instinct. Remember that infertility treatments are likely to be an emotional and stressful experience. You must feel comfortable and supported with the infertility clinic that you choose.