Find the Best Fertility Clinic for You, Here's How
How do I choose the best fertility clinic?
Sometimes, it can feel like you're comparing apples to oranges. Finding the right fertility clinic for you requires a little bit of patience and a lot of research.
Among other things, physician credentials, success rates and scheduling are three big factors that should drive your decision. These all speak to the quality of care that you will receive. (And, if it just so happens to be next to your favorite department store or gelato shop, well, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself after a highly anticipated visit.)
Location is huge. Huge. Patients often underestimate just how much traveling to and from their fertility clinic is required. In the event that you do end up pursuing treatment, there will be early (sometimes, very early) monitoring appointments and likely spur-of-the-moment “drop-in” visits that you can’t possibly schedule ahead of time. Because of this, we advise picking a center that is no more than one hour from home max.
8 Steps to finding the best fertility doctor near you:
Note we said “doctor” there. While one fertility clinic might give off a great vibe with welcoming staff and cozy waiting room chairs, let’s not forget how important the actual physician is who is practicing medicine behind those doors.
We believe that finding the right fertility clinic for you revolves around three things: Location, success rates and, what we refer to as the “X” factor - all of those bells and whistles that make you excited about treatment, not fear it. Here, we examine what to look for within each of the categories. When considering a fertility clinic, ask yourself...
Question 1: Is this fertility clinic good at what they do?
Understanding Fertility Clinic Success Rates
When considering success rates for different fertility clinics, we always like to say that the best place to start is with SART - the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. SART.org features a search function where you can find clinics closest to you and connect directly to their success rates.
While the reporting methods for success rates may seem overwhelmingly complicated, there are a few key indicators to look for that will help you determine if a particular clinic is a good match for you. One of the best pieces of criteria is the live birth rate for women in your age group. Also, by looking at the patient age bar chart, you’ll be able to see if they frequently treat women in your age group.
If the clinic you are considering does not report to SART? Well, that’s a red flag. Being a member of the SART network ensures that your fertility clinic adheres to the highest level of care possible. They advertise truthfully, report accurately and work only with nationally accredited laboratories.
Other things to look for when deciding on a fertility clinic:
Of course a fertility clinic website will only post glowing reviews, What about consumer sites like Yelp or FertilityIQ? Do a little digging to find out what patients have to say about their real-life experiences.
A Trusted fertility community can provide you with a wealth of information when it comes to specific fertility clinics and doctors. Make sure your chat rooms are properly vetted to ensure reps from one clinic are not trying to deter you from bringing your business to another.
If you ever call up and hear “So and so no longer works here…” be on alert. And, while you're not necessarily applying for a job to work at this clinic, websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn are chock-full of happy (or disgruntled employees). This can tell you a lot about a fertility clinic, the company culture and what you might expect should you become a patient.
Here’s a test, just call up the clinic with a relatively simple question and see what type of experience you have. Are you greeted sweetly? Sent through a mile long phone chain? These small instances add up. Just imagine if it was a true emergency.
In many cases, you’ll be directed to a patient portal which can be fantastic or, alternatively, a big flop. Some things to think about when examining a patient portal include:
- How long does it take my fertility doctor to answer a question?
- Is the doctor answering my question or is it a fertility nurse? (Note to self: sometimes a nurse can actually be better because they provide a lot more context and information around a question. Doctors tend to be more succinct.)
- Are there training videos for at-home injection, etc. included?
- Is there a 24/7 emergency hotline where someone will always pick up?
- How easy is it to schedule or reschedule an appointment?
- How secure is my personal health data?
Question 2: How qualified is the medical staff at my fertility clinic?
What to look for in a Reproductive Endocrinologist
This is where personality comes into play. Both your personality and that of the doctor. Honestly, some women and couples could care less about the bedside manner of their Reproductive Endocrinologist. All that matters? Making a healthy baby happen.
We’ve also met hundreds of patients who expect a lot from their doctor - friendly demeanor, frequent check-ins, literal memorization of the patient’s personal health history, and more. Listen, these doctors treat a lot of patients so if they can’t recall your individual case on a moment’s notice, it doesn’t mean that they are bad doctors. (On the contrary, it probably means that they want to cross their T’s and dot their I’s before giving you their opinion.)
We’ve also drawn up a list of a few other things that shouldn’t be glossed over:
Did you know all Reproductive Endocrinologists go through Medical School and then 4 years of residency as an OBGYN? After this, they complete a three year Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Fertility. That’s 11 years of hard core training right there.
A medical license means that the doctor has met the bare minimum required by a state to be able to practice medicine. Of note, these requirements may vary greatly from state to state. Board certification, however, means that your doctor has voluntarily taken the opportunity to show that they are a specialist in the field of fertility, also that they stay up to date on the latest & greatest developments with continuing education. In short, both a license and board certification are a must.
Has your Reproductive Endocrinologist been at the same practice for 20+ years or have they hopped around more than a few times? While outgrowing a practice or an occasional move is totally natural, a physician who clinic hops every 1-3 years might be cause for alarm. Are they running from a bad reputation or - worse - lawsuits? Is their focus on making a buck and not actually treating patients? It’s certainly something to think about.
Here’s one question to ask a potential fertility doctor that you might not have thought about: How many weeks of the year are you on vacation? We have met Reproductive Endocrinologists who take off, literally, more than 6 months of the year. You would be floored to know just how much time doctors take off - which can easily translate into time lost on your treatment.
More importantly, when it comes to availability, it’s important to remember that IVF is not a handbag in a store that you can just pickup curbside 24/7. There are a lot of doctors, nurses, labs and more involved - each one requiring a calendar that syncs up with your body’s ovulation schedule. Many couples make the mistake of saying “Oh, we’ll just start next month” only to be told that next month, and the month after that and even the month after that is not an option. Especially for the 40+ crowd, a few months makes a major difference.
- Personality/Communication Style
How important your doctor’s personality is to you depends largely on your own personality. To some people, it means the world. To others, baby-making is a data-driven game only and they couldn’t care less about bedside manners. Most fertility patients fall somewhere in the middle. Be honest with your doctor and fertility clinic about just how much hand-holding you expect to ensure it’s the right fit. Oftentimes, there are truly amazing fertility nurses and support staff that can fill in the gaps.
If your fertility clinic has an in-house lab, that can certainly help speed up treatment by keeping things under one roof - and help you forgo the transport fees that do add up for so many perusing assisted reproductive technology. Some state-of-the art centers also feature HEPA air filtration systems. And, in the times of COVID, how has the clinic responded to a global pandemic?
At the very least, search out a clean environment, and, ensure that your fertility clinic is reputable. It should be a member of and report annually to SART (the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology). Any in-house embryology laboratory should be certified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). And, if it also features an andrology laboratory, it should be accredited by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).