Even when fertility treatments go well, we know they can be stressful, expensive, and incredibly isolating. And that’s after you have been able to navigate finding the right provider for the care you need. Even though 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, there’s still a significant gap in the information that’s provided to help lead you through the process.
So how do you go about choosing the right doctor and clinic for you? How do you make such a crucial decision on where to seek care?
Six Tips for How To Choose a Fertility Doctor
1. Do your research.
You don’t have to pick the first doctor your OBGYN recommends. You get to be your own advocate here and find the doctor that’s right for you. Don’t just check out clinics, but take time to find out about the doctors too. It’s not guaranteed that you'll know someone personally who can give you a good recommendation, so using sites like FertilityIQ, which is unbiased and fertility-patient operated, will help point you in the right direction. (More about this in #5!).
2. Know that everyone may need something different.
Cure Hydration Ginger Tumeric Hydrating Electrolyte Mix
Labcorp OnDemand Women’s Fertility Package (Ovarian Reserve Test)
You may want a clinic where you see your doctor every time. Or you may be totally okay with a rotating doctor. Maybe you’d like a doctor who is to the point, while someone else wants someone who is warm and fuzzy. Everyone is different, and when you’re investing your time, emotions, and hard-earned dollars into a fertility specialist, it’s important to do your best to ensure it’s a good match from the start. The doctor that was the right fit for your cousin’s neighbor may not be the right one for you.
3. Don’t be blinded by success rates.
There’s a good reason the CDC warns you not to use their data on success rates to compare physicians. Not only is that data older, but it can be easily manipulated by the type of patients a doctor takes and it can’t tell you what your experience at a clinic is going to be like. For example, patient Lauren Citro says, “When we moved to L.A., I made the mistake of picking my next fertility doctor based purely on CDC success rate data. We went in for a consult, didn’t see any red flags, and signed on the dotted line for another IVF cycle. It turned out to be BY FAR the worst cycle of my IVF career. The nurses were inexperienced, the communication was terrible, there were always kids and babies in the waiting room, they lost our test results, I spent WAY more money than I needed to, and finally the doctor blamed me when my cycle failed.” Looking at stats may be one factor in making the decision, but don’t lose sight of what’s important, which is how the clinic treats its patients.
4. Take time to ask questions about the fertility lab.
When going in for a consult, visit the office. Get a tour. Meet the staff. But more importantly, ask questions about the lab. Labs can make or break your IVF cycle and having a top-notch lab is absolutely crucial for success. It’s not talked about enough, but the quality of the lab absolutely influences your outcomes. (There’s a great course here to learn about what questions to ask and what to look at when making a decision regarding labs!)
5. Glean as much insight as you can from the fertility community.
Using a site like FertilityIQ, which aims to lift the veil on what happens behind the scenes, provides real patients the chance to anonymously review their fertility doctor(s). It also provides you the chance to read reviews written by real patients to share what their journey with said doctor and clinic were like. Citro also shares, “If I had access to FertilityIQ back when I first started my infertility journey, I could have avoided so much heartache. I would have known that my first doctor was never direct in answering questions, and I would have been prepared for the fact that my second doctor wouldn’t always see me (and I could have decided if that was a deal breaker). I honestly never would have gone to my third doctor if I had read a review about how dysfunctional the clinic was, and I would have known that my most recent doctor was super personable, but that it would be important to talk to the embryologist too to ask about the lab.” Not only are these the pieces of knowledge that will help you pick who’s right for you, but they will also remind you you’re not alone in this battle. (Take the time to give back to the community by sharing your own experiences as well!)
6. Consult around.
It’s okay to sit down with 2-3 doctors or clinics for a consult before deciding who is right for you. Yes, it may cost you upfront for these meetings; however, in the long run, investing a half-hour or hour of time while deciding if you have a good rapport with a doctor will save you in the long run. Candice Perfetto, MD says, “If you are thinking about getting a second opinion, then you should get a second opinion.” It doesn’t mean anything other than having an extra set of eyes look at your medical records and feeling out a different doctor’s personality.
The bottom line is, taking the time to do research on a possible fertility doctor or clinic ahead of time matters. When it comes to fertility, every individual case is different, and factors like age, ethnicity, and diagnosis all play a part. What is best for one couple may not be best for another, so pause and make sure you aren’t rushing into the decision without properly vetting your options. ?
Chelsea Ritchie is a Midwestern girl who loves connecting with others about infertility, motherhood, and living authentically. She’s been married to Josh for 14 years and recently welcomed twins, Kirsten and Logan, to their family after nearly a decade of waiting and loss. Chelsea loves a good cup of coffee, a cozy bookshop, and mindless reality TV. She co-authored a 6-week woman's devotional called "In the Wait", which helps women lean into God while living intentionally in seasons of waiting. She values engaging her faith and embracing difficult seasons with joy. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram at @chels819.