Going through fertility treatments can be filled with many seemingly impossible decisions. Should I alter my diet to improve my chances of getting pregnant? Should I ask my doctor to switch up my protocol after a failed cycle? Should I tell my boss that I’m going through IVF? But the biggest, and arguably the most important decision that you will make throughout this process is choosing the best fertility clinic and doctor for you. (No pressure.)

Whether you’re just starting out on your infertility trek or looking to make a change to your care team, here are some helpful things to consider: 

1. Do your research.

Before deciding on a fertility clinic, you should first and foremost make sure they are a member of the Society For Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). While a brand new clinic may have some lag time in obtaining SART membership, if a clinic has been around for several years and is not a member of SART, that is generally a red flag. 

SART can also be a fantastic resource to find out important information such as the size of the clinic and its IVF success rates. By using SART’s find-a-clinic tool, you can view a detailed clinic summary report for each clinic, which includes the number of total cycle starts per year, the percentage of live births (by age) per egg retrieval and embryo transfer, the average number of transfers for patients achieving a live birth, and more. If your clinic is new and not yet on SART, ask them to share their data and success rates with you! If they are hesitant to do so, run (don’t walk) in the other direction. 

fertility specialist with patient

As a first step to choosing a fertility clinic, we recommend comparing the SART reports (or data) from several clinics in your area, and then narrowing them down by a set of criteria that are important to you. For example, if you’re interested in a smaller, more intimate clinic, then the number of cycles per year is going to matter. If success rates are your only concern, that’s fine, too. Whatever your preferences might be, once you come up with your clinic short-list, it’s time to schedule those initial consultations! 

2. Interview your doctor for the job.

Think of your initial consultation with your fertility specialist as a job interview, with you as the hiring manager. Did he or she take the necessary time to answer all of your questions in a thorough and thoughtful manner? Did he or she ask all of the right questions when it came to your family-building goals? Does he or she have experience treating your specific diagnosis (if you have one)? 

Perhaps most importantly, what is his or her communication style, and does it match up with your needs as a patient? For example, consider whether you need someone to “give it to you straight” or if you would prefer someone with a gentler approach. Infertility is not just a physical journey, but an emotional one as well, and it’s crucial that you find a physician who makes you feel listened to and supported during this time. 

Now for the background check. A doctor might make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but you should still do some due diligence to make sure he or she is board-certified (or at least board-eligible) in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. This means the doctor completed four years of training on Obstetrics and Gynecology followed by three additional years of fellowship training, and then passed all of the necessary board exams. If a physician is many years out of training and still not board-certified, that could be a red flag. When in doubt, just ask.

Lastly, personal recommendations are always a great option when it comes to finding a fertility specialist. If you don’t know anyone that has been through fertility treatment, Fertility IQ has an extensive clinic database with tons of patient reviews to help you feel more comfortable in your decision-making process. Chances are good that if dozens of other infertility patients felt supported by a specific clinic or doctor, you will, too. 

fertility doctor holding patient's hand

3. Ask more questions.

If you’re still having trouble making a decision, there are some additional considerations you can take into account when deciding on a fertility clinic and/or specialist. For example, it’s definitely worth asking about a clinic’s communication protocol, as well as the doctor’s. 

Will the doctor call you personally with news or will it be a different nurse on the other end of the phone every time? Is there an IVF coordinator on staff? What about a finance department? Is there a patient portal you should know about? Believe it or not, clear and streamlined correspondence from your care team can make all the difference in your stress levels on this journey. 

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4. Convenience is key.

This one might seem low-importance, but if you are able to, try to choose a fertility clinic that is conveniently located for you. Whether you’re doing IUI or IVF, there are many early-morning office visits along the way, so make sure your clinic has flexible monitoring hours and isn’t too far from home (or work). 

5. Listen to your intuition. 

At the end of the day, you can find a fertility clinic with the highest success rates and a fertility doctor that you love, but it’s still important to go with your gut when deciding on the care team that will ultimately help you grow your family. Remember, infertility is a marathon, not a sprint. If something feels off, then it probably is. Don’t be afraid to make a change if you need to, and always listen to your intuition on this journey; it will never steer you wrong. 

Kristyn Hodgdon is the Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer at Rescripted.