How to Select an IVF Fertility Clinic
So, it's been recommended that you find a fertility clinic. With over 400 IVF clinics in the United States, there is no shortage. But how do you choose among them?
Often women or couples are referred to a particular clinic in their area by word-of-mouth. Recommendations may come from your gynecologist or from friends and relatives. Sometimes clinics are known by ads and news articles or found through Internet searches. Even if you are given a recommendation, it is wise that you do your own research in advance of visiting a clinic. Doctors report that IVF patients these days are typically well-informed and knowledgeable when visiting a clinic for the first time. It is to your benefit to be an educated consumer and to know what to look for.
Types of clinics
There is a range when it comes to types of fertility clinics and no two clinics are alike. There are pros and cons with each type, with no type being better generally better than another.
- Sole practitioners
- Small practices with 2 - 8 member physicians
- Large, full-service practices
- Fertility networks
- University-based clinics
- Hospital-based clinics
Sole practitioners may offer a more personable experience than a larger practice, and you may have more direct access to the doctor when you have questions. Larger practices typically have the benefit of an in-house lab, equipment and more resources available, but it is more likely you will be communicating with nurses and staff, rather that directly with the doctor when you have questions. With a larger practice you may not always see the same doctor from visit to visit.
Fertility networks are groups of clinics that have come together under an umbrella organization. They offer different forms of financing.
Clinics at university hospitals are involved in research which could be advantageous in that they could be using the latest techniques, and offer discounts. Medical students are sometimes present during exams at university-based clinics.
With both university-based and hospital-based clinics, there are usually lots of resources, but typically bureaucracy as well. People often wrongly assume that a clinic's reputation is the same as that of the university or hospital within which it resides, but that is not the case. it is important to assess a clinic in the same way you would any clinic.
It is important to know the the success rates of clinics that you are considering. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandates that all IVF clinics report their statistics annually. Note that it takes two years for the CDC rates to become available and, therefore, it is possible that the published data may not be representative of an IVF center's current performance. Many factors that contribute to a clinic's success rate may have changed. For example, physicians and staff may be different, equipment and training may, or may not, have been updated, and so on.
You can see individual clinic's statistics by referring to the Annual ART Success Rate Reports. It provides an in-depth picture of the type, number, and outcome of ART cycles performed in U.S. fertility clinics. To help you interpret the CDC's individual fertility clinic statistics, be sure to read How to Read a Fertility Clinic Table and Introduction to Fertility Clinic Tables.
Understanding IVF clinic success rates
While a majority of clinics publish their success rates on their websites, some do not. When investigating a clinic, you should ask a for a report of a clinic's success rates, and it is always wise to compare their reported statistics to the CDC report. Some clinics may choose to show only a subset of their statistics.
When selecting a clinic, be sure to look for one that has a success
rate that's at least above the national average.
Of course you will want to know costs ahead of time. When looking into the cost of IVF you will find that costs depend on your individual circumstance. Also, you will find that costs vary from clinic to clinic. It is important to ask exactly what is included when you are given a quote for the cost of an IVF cycle.
While cost is an important consideration, it should not be the determining factor when selecting an IVF clinic.
Find out if your health insurance policy covers fertility procedures such as IVF. Even if it a procedure like IVF isn't covered, your insurance may cover fertility diagnostic procedures.
In either case, if you want to take advantage of your coverage, you must choose a doctor that is in your insurance plan.
You can read about state
infertility insurance laws to see how they pertain to you.
Once you've narrowed down your options, you should contact the fertility clinic(s) to set up an interview. It is helpful to know what questions to ask an IVF doctor and questions to ask an IVF clinic.
As you can see, there are a variety of factors to weigh when selecting a fertility clinic that is right for you. After doing your research, in the end, it is very important to listen to your gut. Remember that fertility treatments can be an emotional and stressful experience, and you will want to feel comfortable and supported with the medical provider you choose.