These tips on how to choose a fertility clinic will help you decide which infertility services and doctors will best meet your needs. In this article, I also offer a brief answer to the “what is in vitro fertilization?” question and a summary of how much in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments cost.
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What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
In vitro fertilization is a fertility procedure that is used to help a woman conceive a baby. During an in vitro fertilization cycle, medications are used to stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce several eggs eggs. The mature eggs are surgically removed from the woman’s body, during a brief outpatient procedure. The eggs are then fertilized in a laboratory dish. If the eggs are successfully fertilized and continue to develop for 3 to 5 days, the embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus. This is a basic summary of what IVF is. The number of embryos transferred depends upon the woman’s age and several other factors. To learn about the success rates of IVF, read 5 Reasons In Vitro Fertilization Fails to Result in Pregnancy.
How Much Does IVF Cost?
The cost for an in vitro fertilization cycle depends on several factors, such as the woman’s age and the amount of medication she needs to stimulate the ovaries. Another factor adding to the cost of IVF is whether additional procedures such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are needed, and whether the woman’s own eggs or donor eggs are used. To learn more about the cost of in vitro fertilization, read How Much Does IVF Cost? From $900 to $19,000.
3 Tips on How to Choose a Fertility Clinic
Here, Dr. David McLaughlin of the Follas Center for Reproductive Medicine in Noblesville, Indiana offers excellent advice on how to choose a fertility clinic. His three factors that couples coping with infertility should consider when choosing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic will give you a different perspective on finding the right treatment provider.
“While the affordable care act has encouraged some medical providers to become more transparent in their pricing, there are factors other than cost that you as a health care consumer should consider when choosing a fertility clinic,” says DR McLaughlin. “Three of the most important factors to take into account are Integrity, Organization, and Realistic Expectations and Recommendations.”
1. Consider Integrity of the Fertility Clinic
Most people agree that to have integrity means to do the right thing even when nobody is looking. Recent changes in the healthcare system have made this more difficult for many physicians – including fertility doctors – to do. As many private practices and fertility clinics have been bought up by hospital groups, the employment contracts that many reproductive physicians now work under mandate that they recommend using their network’s in vitro fertilization laboratory, whether it is in the best interest of the patient or not.
As such, there is a major financial conflict of interest for fertility doctors when it comes to recommending where further medical services should be administered. For this reason, you should be aware of the financial relationship, if any, that exists between your doctor and the fertility clinic they recommend. When you are choosing a fertility clinic, ask the referring doctor why they recommend the fertility clinics they do.
In states that do not have in vitro fertilization or IVF insurance mandates, staying in-network may offer you no advantages. Some out-of-network fertility or in vitro fertilization programs may give you more personalized care at a lower price. Therefore, it is important for you to evaluate your options when you are choosing a fertility clinic instead of simply following your primary OB-GYN’s recommendation. Remember they may be suggesting a fertility clinic only out of a contractual obligation.
2. Look at the Organization of the Fertility Clinic
You’ve heard stories about medical mishaps, many of which are due to disorganized practices and miscommunication between staff members. It is imperative that you know how to choose a fertility clinic that is well organized and able to focus on your specific needs as a couple coping with infertility.
During your first visit, you should meet with your in vitro fertilization or IVF physician to discuss your options. At this time he or she should review your previous medical records, request any that are absent, perform a thorough exam, and perhaps obtain a baseline pelvic ultrasound. If you agree to go through an IVF cycle, your physician would select a medical protocol to induce your ovaries to select and mature multiple eggs. It’s important to remember that individual patients have individual responses to different protocols. Fertility doctors attempt to match a protocol to your needs based on their experience, so you may not receive the same fertility protocols or IVF instructions from different doctors.
Whether or not you decide on in vitro fertilization, a Clearblue Fertility Monitor will help you figure out when you ovulate. This fertility monitor is the most advanced way of tracking fertility, and it’s the only non-invasive method that detects both LH and estrogen hormones.
In vitro fertilization is a complicated process, but regardless of this complexity you should feel confident in your fertility clinic, the IVF team, and their organization. If you don’t feel comfortable with your fertility clinic and team, don’t be afraid to choose a different IVF provider.
3. Think About the Expectations and Recommendations of the Fertility Clinic
This tip on how to choose a fertility clinic is important, because you are taking a chance as a couple coping with infertility. Participating in an in vitro fertilization program does not mean you will get pregnant. It’s important to be hopeful that your IVF will be successful, but you also need to have realistic expectations about the success of any in vitro fertilization cycle.
Be careful not to choose a fertility clinic solely based on their Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies success rates. If you are younger and have few underlying gynecological or fertility issues, your individual chances may be much higher. However, if you are an older couple coping with infertility and have had failed in vitro fertilization cycles in the past, your individual chances may in fact be lower. It is critical that you get the honest truth on your chances of a successful pregnancy.
If You Have Experienced a Failed In Vitro Fertilization in the Past
If you have experienced a failed IVF cycle, follow up with your fertility doctor to see what they recommend. Often, there is not an obvious reason that the in vitro fertilization cycle failed, but a review of your failed IVF cycle is important.
Like many things in life, repeated in vitro fertilization cycles give you a diminishing return of potential success. At some point your fertility doctor should advise that you seek other options, such as adoption or moving on with your life without getting pregnant.
As you consider how to choose a fertility clinic and if you should undergo in vitro fertilization, you should evaluate several fertility programs. Select the fertility clinic and program that best fits you. Take into account the integrity of your fertility clinic and provider, the organization of their fertility program, and the expectations and recommendations that the fertility team or doctor gives you.
When you’re choosing a fertility clinic, look for how other couples coping with infertility experienced the IVF or other infertility treatments. Search for insights via word-of-mouth, testimonials, reviews, or online forums about fertility programs and clinics.
For more information on infertility programs such as in vitro fertilization – and what happens if they fail – read What if Fertility Treatments Don’t Work?
Your comments on how to choose a fertility clinic are welcome. I can’t offer advice our counseling, though. If you have any questions about in vitro fertilization or other fertility treatments, please talk to your doctor. Or, call a fertility clinic and ask them questions about the treatment that may help you get pregnant.
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My prayer for all couples coping with infertility is for peace and acceptance, come what may. And wisdom to know how to choose a fertility clinic, if that’s the road you wish to take.