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How to Choose an Infertility Clinic

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You'd also better make sure there actually is a team, Madsen says: "Does the program have support? A psychologist on staff, a social worker, support groups. It will certainly help the couple survive this."

Another consideration is making sure the clinic is open seven days a week, because, as Madsen puts it, "a woman's ovulation waits for no man." It's important to select a clinic that's convenient to reach, as infertility treatment requires sometimes-daily office visits.

Assisted reproductive technology enabled Stephanie Plaut, 37, of Irvington, N.Y., to give birth to twins two years ago. She says it helps to know what kind of relationship you're looking for before settling on an infertility doctor.

"I knew I was going to be very involved," she says. "I wanted to be able to get a straight and direct answer. So it meant for me having a doctor who was kind and caring, and one who was not going to get his back up if I had a question."

She found one, but at points during her treatment it hardly mattered. "It really is a clinic. You have to be willing to accept the fact you're not always going to see that doctor. You're going to interact with other members of the staff."

It took many interactions with the medical community before 39-year-old Ellen Bender found a successful infertility treatment. The New York lawyer saw two obstetrician/gynecologists and a reproductive specialist before getting the news that she harbored poor-quality eggs.

She had a disorder called polycystic ovarian syndrome. Through Internet research, Bender says, she found the recommended infertility treatments for the disorder -- which didn't match the treatments she'd been put through. She eventually contacted a British doctor who had written a paper on the subject. He supplied the names of three doctors in New York who specialized in treating her condition.

Two lessons she learned from the ordeal: know exactly what you're dealing with, and don't waste time.

Bender says there's a tendency for women with infertility problems to stay with their obstetrician/gynecologists too long, and in turn, for some of these doctors to hang on to patients longer than they should before turning them over to a specialist. She's married, by the way, to an obstetrician. Three years ago, she gave birth to a daughter.

Madsen has a final bit of advice: "Read the books. You've got to learn how to become your own best advocate. Because no one cares the way you do about whether you bring home a baby."

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