Infertility is a problem that affects as many as fifteen percent of couples in the US. Not being able to conceive can be heartbreaking. All the beautiful plans you and your partner had for the future — plans for dance lessons and football games and graduations and weddings — seem to have disappeared, or at the very least, been put on hold.
Making the decision to seek counseling for an infertility problem can be difficult. Not only are you coming to terms with your own very personal loss, but you also know you might be facing an array of medical tests and treatments, as well. In addition, you will need to answer some very personal questions about your health and your intimate relationship. This can feel daunting.
Choosing a fertility doctor
Once you have made the decision to consult a fertility specialist, you may be wondering how to make that choice. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Is the doctor board certified? You want to choose a fertility doctor who is board certified in reproductive endocrinology, infertility, obstetrics or gynecology, or perhaps a combination of these fields. Board certification means, according to the American Board of Medical Specialists, that your doctor has gone beyond the minimum requirements for licensure in his or her field and has demonstrated an “exceptional expertise” in one or more areas of specialization.
- Is the facility clean, bright and comfortable? First impressions matter when you’re choosing doctor. A clean, comfortable waiting area shows that the staff is professional and conscientious and wants you to feel comfortable and well cared for.
- Does the doctor listen to my questions and answer them thoughtfully? Going through infertility is both mentally and physically challenging. You want a doctor who will listen to your questions and concerns at all times, and answer them in a way that makes sense to you.
- What is the clinic’s success rate? Ask the clinic staff about its success rate for both embryo implantation and live births. It is important to choose a clinic whose success rates are at least as high, and hopefully even higher, than the national average.
- Are there low-cost options? Fertility treatments can cost tens of thousands of dollars, a price not everyone can afford. Ask if the doctor you’re considering offers lower-cost fertility treatments such as natural cycle IVF.
- Will I be able to get help when I need it? Your concerns and possible complications with both the fertility treatments and their results — a healthy pregnancy — cannot be confined to the calendar. It’s important that your fertility doctor be available when you have questions or concerns. Choose a doctor who has a service in place so that you can make contact whenever you need to, even if it’s in the middle of the night.