Ready to seek fertility assistance? You might be inundated with so much information that makes selecting a fertility center seem like a daunting task. Here are some tips that will help couples determine the right physicians and fertility center:
It takes two – both a man and a woman are needed to successfully conceive a baby. Comprehensive fertility care is important to ensure couples are presented with all available options. Find out if you and your partner will have access to both female and male fertility specialists. This is vital because both perspectives may be needed to achieve the desired outcome. In about 60% of infertile couples a male factor may be contributing to the issue. A reproductive endocrinologist specializes in female fertility while a reproductive urologist focuses on male fertility.
Specialists in female and male fertility working together hand in hand as a unified team with a couple can provide the optimal treatment plan. A few selected fertility centers in the country have both in-house specialists in female and male fertility, and Austin Fertility & Reproductive Medicine is the only such practice in Austin.
A fertility doctor with the proper training and experience is essential. For a specialist in female fertility, board certification in Obstetrics & Gynecology as well as board certification in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility are essential. This certification is the expected standard for specialists in female fertility in addition to the four years of training and the additional clinical time in Obstetrics and Gynecology, the physician has undergone 3 years of fellowship training in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, an intensive training program of the human female reproductive system.
Likewise, a male fertility specialist should have the highest credentials and training in the field of reproductive urology. Board certification is issued by the American Board of Urology after a physician has met the stringent educational, training, and exam requirements. A true male fertility specialist should have also completed an accredited Reproductive Urology fellowship following residency.
Asking about the experience and credentials of the support staff similarly is important. Support staff may include medical assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners and others. It is also helpful to note how support staff and physicians interact with patients. Are they warm and friendly? Do they appear to connect to patients on a personal level? These are crucial considerations in the midst of an emotional journey. Ultimately, patients should feel comfortable with the doctor, the staff and the level of care.
Patients will want to ask about which options are available at the fertility center. IVF is one of the most well-known options, but a more versatile fertility center will have other treatment plans and customize it to what’s best for a couple to increase chances of conception in a manner that is most fit for the individual couple when appropriate. When there are more approaches available, like ovulation induction treatment or intrauterine insemination (IUI), the chances of achieving the desired outcome increase in certain clinical scenarios. At times, there are male factor treatments that may even help improve fertilization, pregnancy, and live birth rates with IUI or IVF.
A fertility center that has in-house embryology/andrology laboratory services may be more attractive than one that works with an outside lab. An on-site lab may guarantee more efficient and faster turnaround time to test results. Some fertility centers will have their own direct IVF lab, which can be very beneficial to couples who have the option to have services provided to them at one location, with familiarity and comfort with the same support staff that patients are already familiar with during their journey to becoming parents. This brings a great deal of peace of mind to patients on important days such as when IVF procedures are being done, with familiar faces around in a familiar environment. Also, having an on-site Andrology laboratory that performs high level semen analyses with higher level sperm testing when needed, such as assessing sperm DNA integrity and antisperm antibodies when indicated.
A fertility center should have an answering service available after hours to contact on evenings and weekends for any urgent needs or questions that patients may have.
Since some fertility treatments are not covered by insurance, depending on individual plans, most patients will want to discuss available financing options. Many clinics are willing to work with determined patients.
The above covers a few areas that are important to look at when reviewing a potential fertility center. When evaluating a fertility center, asking the right questions during the consultation will also help determine if it’s a good fit. Couples need to prioritize what’s important to them and select a fertility center that they trust and are comfortable in working with.