Finding the right clinic for you is so important.
For some couples, this decision is easy, you know that you need to have IVF, and you may have just one clinic close by that offers it.
If you qualify for funded treatment, the choice of clinic is probably going to be a little more restricted.
For other couples there may be a broader range of clinics to choose from.
Only you can decide the factors that are going to be important to you when it comes to choosing a clinic for your fertility treatment.
So how do you find the right clinic?
When you’re trying to find a fertility clinic, searching the Internet is going to provide you with lots of information about the types of treatments on offer, clinic success rates, clinic doctors and prices.
It can start to feel very overwhelming. So, let’s go through what you should take into consideration when deciding what fertility clinic to choose.
Make sure you visit some clinics
Make some appointments to visit a few clinics to have a look at them and to meet the staff.
It is important to look at a range of clinics so that you can choose the type of clinic that is most appropriate for you.
Many clinics have open days or special sessions for prospective patients that you can attend.
When you visit the clinic talk to the staff to find out information such as clinic opening times and how many times you will need to go into the clinic so that you can see whether this will fit into your schedule.
The main factor most people look at when it comes to choosing a fertility clinic is the clinic’s success rates.
This is a good way to assess how well the clinic does, but you need to be aware that the overall clinic success rate is not necessarily the same as your individual chance of having a baby at that clinic.
The chance of you becoming pregnant will depend on factors such as your age and the nature and duration of your fertility problem.
Clinic success rates also tend to vary from year to year.
In some cases, a clinic with a slightly lower overall success rate may offer you a better chance of success for your specific fertility problem.
Find out what the waiting times are like
The time you need to wait to get an initial appointment at the clinic and the length of the waiting list for treatment at the clinic may influence your choice.
This can be important if you are older and you know that treatment is less likely to succeed the longer you wait.
You also need to consider what the cost is going to be for your treatment
Fertility treatment is not cheap, but some clinics do charge more than others.
Clinics should provide you with a clear estimate of how much you should expect to pay in total for your fertility treatment.
It is also important to make sure you are clear about all the inclusions and the costs of those inclusions so that there are no unexpected extras that you have to pay for once treatment starts.
Check whether there may be extra tests that haven’t been included in the price estimate and whether the cost of your medication is included or not.
If you find there are going to be any extras, make sure you get estimates for those as well.
Also find out what the cost is for freezing any spare eggs and embryos, as this can be another expense that needs to be factored into your budget.
Check your eligibility for treatment
Some fertility clinics offer a limited range of fertility treatments, so make sure you check whether the clinic can help you with your fertility specific treatment.
For example, some clinics will set age limits for treatment and many clinics won’t treat women who are in the overweight or obese BMI range.
Find out what the clinic’s areas of expertise are
If you have a specific fertility problem, find out if there are any doctors at the clinic who specialise in your specific fertility problem.
Some doctors focus their research on specific aspects of infertility and may be more skilled and successful when working with those conditions.
What is the atmosphere like at the clinic?
All clinics are different in terms of their atmosphere.
You will have your own individual reaction to the atmosphere of a clinic and what you prefer, although treatment will usually be the same across most clinics.
Some patients prefer the larger, less personal clinics where success rates are often high, and the treatment process is carried out efficiently.
Other patients prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of a smaller clinic where everything is more personal, and you get to know the staff.
If you feel comfortable at the clinic where you are being treated it is going to make the treatment process much easier for you to deal with, which can make all the difference to a successful outcome.
Where is the clinic located?
The geographical location is another factor to consider when choosing a clinic.
Large cities will have more clinic choices than remote and rural regions where there may be only one option within a reasonable travelling distance.
You are going to need to visit the clinic quite regularly during your treatment, so make sure you take the distance to the clinic into consideration. What seems possible for an occasional trip may become exhausting when you must do the same trip three times in a week.
However, if you feel the most local clinic to you doesn’t have good enough success rates, or offer the treatment you need, or it doesn’t feel right for you, then go for the clinic that might be further away but that works for you. However, be realistic about how you will manage if you have a very long journey and multiple trips to make in a short period of time.
Find out if the clinic has satellite clinics?
Some larger city clinics have links with other smaller clinics, or with gynaecology departments in local hospitals.
If you attend a satellite unit, they will monitor your cycle and transfer you back to the main fertility clinic for your egg collection and embryo transfer.
Ask what support is offered
All fertility clinics should offer you and your partner counselling.
Some clinics have a resident counsellor, or you may need to see a counsellor affiliated to the clinic working from consulting rooms at a different location.
You may just be given a phone number to call if you need counselling, and you arrange it yourself.
Find out as well if the clinic offers any patient support groups that you can join which can be beneficial.
Is there continuity of care?
If you want to see the same doctors and staff members during your treatment, make sure you ask about this at the clinic.
You may feel more secure and comfortable if you know the doctor or nurse you are seeing is going to be the same one at each visit and is across your treatment from beginning to end.
Do you have any personal recommendations from friends or people you know about good clinics?
If you know someone who has had IVF and who can recommend a good clinic, this could be a factor in helping you choose.
Bu remember that their fertility problem may be different to your own, and it doesn’t automatically follow that what has worked for someone else is also going to work for you.
If you are online in any groups, you will find contrasting opinions about different fertility clinics and their doctors. Some clinics do build up a solid reputation among patients or among the medical profession, but patients and doctors will have different opinions about what makes a good fertility clinic.
Patients may prefer high success rates and being able to access cutting-edge treatments.
Doctors, however, often respect clinics run by medical staff who are carrying out research and these clinics may not always produce the highest success rates.
This is from my program ‘Everything you need to know before starting IVF/ART’.
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