There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fertility treatment. Everyone is different and depending on your personal fertility situation, it’s important to find the clinic that is the best fit for your needs.
Together with Binto, we have put together the following tips to help you feel more in control of your health and fertility and choose the right fertility provider for you.
What is a fertility doctor?
A fertility specialist doctor, or a reproductive endocrinologist, has completed additional years of training, which allows them to treat infertility and recommend an effective treatment plan for you.
That said, many women will begin the conversation with their OB/GYN. This can be extremely helpful in understanding your options and getting recommendations to begin trying to conceive. However, not every OB/GYN is certified in reproductive endocrinology.
ACOG recommends that you seek an evaluation with a fertility doctor if you are younger than 35 and having trouble getting pregnant after one year of trying, or over 35 and having trouble getting pregnant after six months of trying.
Not sure exactly what to look for? Here is our advice for how to get started:
How to choose the right fertility doctor for you
1. Write down what you are looking for
Before you even start your search, take out a pen and a piece of paper and write down the parts of the clinic experience that are most important to you. This is the first action step you can take and is a great way to help you guide your thinking so the search doesn’t feel as overwhelming.
Some questions to ask:
- Is bedside manner important to you?
- Are you less concerned with the experience itself and more concerned with IVF outcomes?
- Do you want to see your doctor every time you visit?
- Would you rather be at a larger facility with lots of patients and interact more closely with the nursing team?
Write down what is important to you first, and once you know what you are looking for you can dive into the search.
2. Know where to search and seek advice
A Google search is easy but make sure to include clinic reviews and ask people in your network for recommendations as you conduct your research.
Here are some resources we recommend:
- FertilityIQ: This online platform offers reviews of fertility clinics. The added benefit is that you can see the grade other patients have awarded a clinic for the quality of the nursing team, the doctor’s bedside manner, communication skills, etc.
- SART: If you are looking specifically for data on the IVF outcomes of a particular clinic, SART, or the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, is a great place to look. The society keeps records of data from fertility clinics across the country. That being said, some of the information dates back to 2018, so there is a delay in updates on the platform. Also, remember to take the raw numbers with a grain of salt. There is a lot more that goes into the experience of a fertility clinic besides raw outcomes.
- Your network: We always recommend reaching out to anyone in your personal circles who you know has also gone through infertility. If you are comfortable talking to them, they might be able to provide more insight into the doctors in your area, and give you information about who they went to, who they liked, and why they chose their provider.
- Binto: Our healthcare providers are here for you via telehealth whenever you need to talk it through. Binto is a great option when you want to talk to someone outside your circle that is unbiased but feels like a friend nonetheless.
3. Find a doctor or clinic that works for you financially
This is arguably the most important step. Fertility procedures can be expensive—up to tens of thousands of dollars—so you want to try and select a clinic that accepts your insurance and is in-network so your copays will be lower. If you are looking at IVF and you don’t have fertility coverage, try to look for a clinic that offers a refund program or shared risk program. These might be better options to help minimize the financial burden of this treatment on your family.
4. Look for a quality nursing team
Remember that you will see the nurses and tech support teams more often than your doctor. So much goes on behind the scenes at a fertility clinic, and you might not be able to get a good sense of this from just looking at online reviews without talking to someone who actually works at a clinic.
As a registered nurse who worked in fertility for many years, Binto founder Nurse Suzie offers the following advice:
“You are not going to see your doctor at every monitoring visit, but you will get to know the tech and nursing staff. You will likely see them more than you see your doctor, depending on the clinic. It is so important to pay attention to online rankings of the other professionals you will be interacting closely with. The nurses are oftentimes the people calling you back after blood work, delivering good or bad news, and coaching you through the entire process, so make sure you select a fertility clinic with a quality nursing team to support you. Fertility IQ can be a great resource for making this decision. You want to look for clinics with high rankings for communication and the nursing team.”
5. Think about the size of the clinic
Do you want to be at a really big fertility clinic with lots of patients, or at a place that is smaller and more boutiquey? If you have the luxury of choosing, this is another key consideration to take into account. A larger fertility clinic means there are multiple doctors or providers who usually get together weekly to review cases. This can be helpful for getting more hats in the ring to figure out your specific situation, especially if you have a complicated case. However, at a larger center you might not be seeing your doctor every visit.
If you want a more hands on approach, or calmer vibe, a smaller clinic might be better for you, but it won’t have the added benefit of multiple provider heads to put together to solve your problem.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which environment you prefer and at the end of the day, you should go with your gut and pick the provider you trust the most. Size aside, any doctor you choose should be up to date on their clinical research and committed to helping you through this journey. It comes down to finding an environment where you trust your doctor to make the right call for you.
6. Don’t forget your mental health
Going through fertility treatment can be stressful and overwhelming, especially during COVID, when you might not be able to bring anyone with you to your appointments. It’s so important to find a team that cares as much about getting you pregnant as you do, and who will be with you every step of the way.
You need a team that will fight for you and help you figure it out, so you’re looking for the people who will go to bat with you. Coupled with this is the importance of finding someone who understands that the mental health aspect of fertility treatment is huge.
Researchers are still studying the long term impacts of infertility on the mental health of couples, and treatment places a huge mental health load on the people caring for those struggling with infertility too. Try to find a practice that values the importance of providing mental health support to help you get through your journey.
7. Know that it is always okay to get a second opinion
As we mentioned before, going through fertility treatment is a truly individual experience, and you need to do the research to find the practice that best matches your needs. If you are at a clinic and don’t feel adequately supported, it is okay to try somewhere else. Nothing is wrong with getting a second opinion, and there are a lot of great clinics and doctors out there — sometimes you just have to test the waters to see what is right for you.
Don’t be nervous or feel bad for your doctor if you’re thinking about seeing someone else — if they are a good physician they will support your decision to go and get a second opinion.
Questions to ask potential fertility providers
What is my prognosis?
In general, it’s good to get an idea of what a fertility doctor thinks judging by what you tell him or her about your symptoms and experiences. You can usually get a good perspective and feel for a doctor based on these answers.
What diagnostic tests do you recommend?
This is an important question to ask because you will ultimately need testing done. If you prefer less invasive tests this would be the time to ask. If a doctor recommends more invasive tests than you might be comfortable with, it is also important to ask the reasoning here.
What time of treatment would you recommend trying first?
There are a variety of options and this question may be a great wake up for you as well as a way to actually start taking actionable steps to pregnancy. Ask if you can start with lifestyle changes if that is important to you, or if you feel you’ve exhausted all those options perhaps the right thing for you is to jump right into IVF.
In your practice, how often do pregnancies occur with treatment?
This answer will vary. But having a mean number of pregnancies as a guide may help you feel more trusting and hopeful in a clinic.
What is the cost of treatment?
Let’s get down to it—this one is important. Be sure to ask what your insurance covers, what is out of pocket and if there are any options for payment plans.
Your TTC and pregnancy journey is a highly personal experience and doing your research now will ensure you have the support you need when the time comes. Comparing doctors, preparing questions, and asking your network will give you the confidence you need to pick the right provider for you.
Written by Binto
Suzie Devine is the founder of Binto, a first-to-market, DTC supplement company that offers personalized daily supplement packets tailored to a woman’s specific needs and reproductive stage. They also offer telehealth consultations to help support fertility and wellness questions.