You’ve heard the terrible news, and your heart sank. You and your partner need help conceiving.
As you both try to wrap your head and heart around this news you know you have to now figure out big questions. Where do you seek treatment- which doctor, which clinic? Locally or abroad? How do you reach your decision?
This article will point you to the various things to consider, as you go about making this important decision.
1. Look at success rates... but with a grain of salt.
There is a lot of variation on what ‘success’ is being measured. For some clinics it is a positive pregnancy and for some it is a live birth. When a clinic mentions success rates, we are not sure which number is being quoted. And unfortunately there is no centralised agency in the U.A.E. that confirms the success rate figures clinics quote. Speak to the doctor during your consultation and find out.
2. Make sure IVF isn’t the only treatment option.
It’s important to find a clinic that offers many treatment options. If you feel the clinic is pushing you to an IVF treatment, without a good reason, definitely try to understand or check with the doctor their reasoning.
3. How big is the clinic
Like with all things, there are pros and cons to both small and large practices. Large practices may have more doctors, more options or better technologies. Check to see if you are still given personalised care. Small practices tend to have a more personal feel and might provide more personalised care. Check to see if they have up to date technologies and offer all treatment options suitable for your particular case etc. Weigh the pros and cons, and choose the clinic that best aligns with your needs.
What have other patients said about the fertility clinic? Try doing your own research through many avenues
· On their websites
· By speaking to a clinic representative over the phone or in person
· By speaking with current or former patients (found through local infertility groups online)
· By meeting and interviewing your potential doctor at a consultation
· How long has the director been with the clinic? What about the other staff members? The longer people stay with the clinic, the more likely the working environment runs smoothly.
5. Critically analyze your consultation appointment.
Once you’ve found a fertility clinic that looks good on paper, schedule an initial consultation — but go in with a critical mindset. Think of it as an interview where you entrusting them with one of the most important goals. How can they help YOU and your partner? What do they have to OFFER YOU? Beyond a connection with the doctor, what else should you look for?
Care & Accessibility- Social and Emotional
· How you’re greeted. Does the staff seem warm and welcoming?
· How they communicate with patients. Did you like and feel confident with the clinic’s team of doctors and nurses? Did they seem like a team? If so, the chance of good communication, so vital to feeling happy about the treatment, is likely to be adequate. Do patients regularly see a doctor rather than a member of the paramedical staff? Do they take time to answer your questions? Can you ask questions via email during testing and treatment? Are they open to answering questions?
· What days and hours is the clinic open? Are there extra early hours or evening hours, so you can have monitoring appointments before or after work? Are they open for the weekend so they can handle IVF or IUI transfers that need to occur on a Friday?
· Do they offer any special services beyond basic fertility treatment? Do they have an on-staff counsellor to help you work through your options an emotional impacts of treatment? Do they have support groups? Mind-body techniques? Acupuncture on-site available right after embryo transfer?
· Their financial options. Most clinics require you to pay for procedures 100 percent upfront, but they some have programs to help you with the burden. Do they offer an IVF Refund Program? These are programs that require a large upfront fee but promise some of your money back if you don't get pregnant after a set number of cycles.
· Their hospital affiliation. If you experience a complication that requires hospitalization, you want to make sure they plan to send you to a hospital covered by your insurance.
· What diagnostic tests do they plan to perform. Educate yourself on the many female and male tests that should be performed before treatment starts. You want a clinic that’s thorough and creates a treatment plan to your specific case.
· Does the lab perform cryopreservation of embryos ? What about eggs and sperm? Where are the embryos, eggs, or sperm stored? How many years of experience does the embryologist have? What emergency procedures do they have in the case of a power outage? How long is the storage for? How much does it cost to store and do a Frozen embryo transfer cycle?
· ASK Questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions - the knowledge gained will help you decide whether you’ve chosen the best fertility clinic for you.
· How is each treatment cycle monitored?
Generally, clinics that do regular hormone tests throughout the cycle, for example, get better results and may have fewer complications. The results will also give a better idea of what went wrong if the treatment fails. Does the clinic have a fixed drugs regime for stimulating egg production, or does it tailor the treatment to suit the circumstances of the particular individual? This treatment should be tailored for your specific requirements.
· Expertise and your specific condition
Are you dealing with a relatively simple case like blocked tubes, or do you have more complex infertility issues like unexplained infertility or older maternal age? Is the fertility clinic able to handle your level of infertility issues? Does the clinic treat other patients with issues like yours? What kind of success have they had? What procedures or protocols help this kind of case? What would this doctor do differently?
· They are hopeful for you — and make you feel hopeful for yourself. You should walk away from this appointment feeling energised. A little overwhelmed perhaps, but definitely energised.
And as you gather all this information it can certainly feel overwhelming, it can help to go back to your gut on what feels right and if you still feel uncertain- reach out to me and I can help you sort through all this information and find the best possible way ahead for you.
I can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a Counsellor and Certified Coach trained with Mind body interventions from Boston IVF as well as with British Infertility Counselling Association, UK. I have also worked with hundreds of couples and women going through IVF at a Fertility clinic in Dubai. I am also trained as a Couples coach in Gottman couples work. I also have my own journey of Infertility.