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    How to Choose an Infertility Clinic


    Madsen says that any doctor can hang out a shingle that says "Infertility Specialist," but patients should check the fine print for the words "reproductive endocrinologist."

    Then it's time to schedule a consultation, and, to a certain extent, let instinct take over.

    "Infertility treatment is very different than getting treated for a stomachache by an internist. You need to feel like you're part of a team," Madsen says. "You've got to feel comfortable with that staff and physician, that you are cared about. If, for some reason, the pit of your stomach is saying, 'This is not the right place for me,' it's probably not."

    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.

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