If the next step in your journey to get pregnant is to look for a fertility clinic, it pays to do a little homework first.
There are lots of reasons why a fertility clinic might be a good choice. Let's say you're having trouble getting pregnant, and so far your gynecologist has given you advice and ran some basic tests. He may have run a blood test for hormones or asked you to record your basal body temperature for a couple of months. He's probably also performed an ultrasound and an hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or sonohysterography.
At the same time, your husband has been checked out by a urologist. When it comes time to diagnose the problem and suggest solutions, you may wish there were a single doctor you both could see. That's where the infertility specialist comes in.
A specialist can provide big-picture advice. RESOLVE, an infertility support group, recommends you see one if you're a:
Woman who has had more than one miscarriage
Woman under 35 and haven't gotten pregnant after 12 months of trying
Woman over 35 and haven't gotten pregnant after 6 months of trying
- Man who's had a poor semen analysis
Before you get started on your search for a fertility clinic, find out what kind of tests or procedures you may need down the road. And give some thought ahead of time to how far you're willing to go with this process. Infertility treatments can cost many thousands of dollars and involve strong drugs or hormones. It can also be an emotional roller coaster. Knowing your limits will keep you from being talked into some new procedure that you really don't want and can't afford.
When it's time to choose a clinic, do thorough research ahead of time. One useful resource is a federal database kept by the CDC. It has the success rates of fertility centers around the country. The stats are updated every few years, so check the date.
Keep in mind that some fertility centers that looked great several years ago may have had a lot of turnover in staff and may have gone downhill in quality. But the numbers give you a place to start.
Questions to Ask a Fertility Clinic
Make sure the clinic has good quality control and strong ethics. Ask a lot of questions at each one you visit, such as:
- How long have the medical director, doctors, and technicians been there? High staff turnover can be a sign of bad management and can contribute to mistakes.
- Which procedures do you do, and how often? Be sure the clinic has a wide range of infertility remedies and is familiar with the latest technology.
- Do you have age limits for treatment? If so, it's a good sign that the clinic is concerned about ethical issues.
- When you do a procedure that involves fertilizing the eggs outside the woman's body and then putting them inside her, who decides how many eggs go back in, you or the doctor?
- What does treatment cost? While you don't want to choose strictly on price, it's good to know costs ahead of time so you know what you're getting into.
If you call the clinic and they say they're too busy to answer your questions, try elsewhere. They may not have time for your questions once you're a patient, either.