If you’re experiencing difficulties in growing your family, making the decision to enter the world of fertility treatments can be, to put it mildly, overwhelming. This vulnerable and emotional position is filled with difficult decisions and a rollercoaster of emotions to go along with it. At a time in your life where you feel as though you can go from laughing to crying and back again, sometimes within a matter of minutes, it’s easy and entirely normal to feel a tad scatter-brained throughout the process.
10 Questions To Ask at Your First Fertility Appointment
That being said, if you’re anticipating your first fertility consultation, it’s a good idea to write down a list of questions in advance. Here are 10 important points you shouldn’t miss bringing up at that first appointment:
1. Based on my history, what fertility tests do you recommend in order to get a diagnosis?
2. What fertility tests do you recommend for my partner (if applicable)?
At your initial visit, you’ll give information about your personal fertility journey. Your doctors will likely need you to get additional testing done in order to reach a diagnosis for yourself, your partner, or both, and to devise treatment plan options.
3. While undergoing an initial fertility workup, are there any lifestyle changes I should be making right now?
While lifestyle changes alone cannot offer an infertility “magic cure” or “quick fix," there are small day-to-day changes that are shown to offer improvement in egg quality, sperm quality, hormone levels, and more. Some of these you’ve surely heard before: exercise daily, cut out alcohol, and quit smoking are a few of the big ones. Asking your doctor what changes they recommend now can help set the stage for improved outcomes later on.
4. For my initial fertility workup and diagnostic testing, who is the best point of contact and what is the overall timeline?
Many clinics do testing in-house, but you may need to schedule tests at another location, especially if you’re traveling for treatment. Find out who to schedule all diagnostic tests with and how you’ll receive your results (a phone call, an online patient portal, an app specific for communications with your clinic, etc.)
If you’ve already completed some diagnostic testing or have a medical diagnosis known to impact fertility from a previous doctor, such as your OBGYN, you may also begin to talk about specific treatment options during your initial consultation.
5. What are the fertility treatment options available to me, and what specific protocol do you recommend?
When it comes to fertility treatments, there are a world of options - medicated cycles, IUI, IVF, fresh or frozen embryo transfers, egg or sperm donation, surrogacy, and more - all of which can be terrific choices depending on an individual or couple's personal set of circumstances and desires. Your provider should discuss and explain all of the different potential paths to parenthood with you, as well as their recommendation for what they believe will offer you the best chance of success.
6. Is there a waitlist for treatment?
It’s important to find out if your clinic has a waitlist for IUI and IVF cycles, as well as if they do batch cycles. This is a method used by many fertility treatment providers in which birth control is used to control the menstrual cycles of patients in order to create their treatment calendars in such a way that patients undergo processes (such as egg retrievals) around the same time.
7. What are your live birth rate success rates in my age group for IUI and IVF?
IUI and IVF aren’t a guarantee, and many folks do end up requiring multiple cycles before achieving success. Finding out the statistics in advance is important not only when it comes to selecting a clinic, but for having a realistic guideline in mind prior to undergoing treatment.
8. Can I schedule a meeting with the clinic's financial department?
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For many, undergoing fertility treatments is one of the biggest financial decisions of a lifetime. Meeting with your provider’s financial office is a crucial step prior to beginning treatment. Find out what, if any, insurance coverage you may have for testing and treatment options, as well as cost breakdowns for your various treatment plan options. They will also be able to provide you with information on any payment plans they may offer, as well as storage options and costs for eggs, sperm, or embryos.
9. If I have questions during treatment, how do I best contact you? When should I expect to hear a response?
These days, many providers choose to communicate through an app or patient portal. Knowing exactly what to expect when it comes to communication is helpful prior to beginning treatment. For example, they may prefer communication through an app with the exception of specific circumstances in which a phone call is warranted. Some doctors even provide patients with their personal after-hours numbers for emergency scenarios. Once you begin, you’ll want to know exactly who to contact and a realistic expectation of when to expect a response.
10. What are my next steps?
You’ve made it this far - now what? Be sure to walk away from your consultation knowing exactly what steps you need to take in order to move forward. Many of the above questions may bring up additional inquiries, so don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, there are absolutely no “silly questions.” When it comes to your overall health and fertility, you deserve to have a full understanding of what to expect, so ask away!
After Your First Fertility Visit
While it may feel like information overload at first, you should leave your initial fertility consultation feeling empowered and hopeful. It’s helpful to bring a list of questions and something to jot down notes, so that you can easily glance over any information you may need a refresher on post-appointment. And remember: it’s perfectly fine to “shop around" before deciding on a provider to help you grow your family. Finding a doctor you feel comfortable with, who takes the time to answer any and all questions you have with clarity and patience is an experience every fertility patient deserves. And if you need additional support on your TTC journey, Rescripted's free fertility support community can help.
Lindsey Williams is a library worker and writer who lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Peaches. After 5 years of trying to conceive with dual-factor infertility, she is currently expecting her first child conceived with the help of IVF.