For those experiencing infertility for the first time, the initial consult with the doctor can be scary and overwhelming! What do you ask, how many questions should you ask, and how do you even know where to start?! The initial consultation is a great opportunity to learn as much as you can about both infertility in general, and your specific case in a short time, and you’ll want to take advantage of it.
If you are seeing a good doctor (which, hopefully you are as fertility is not something to skimp on), he or she should guide you through the process and be prepared with the answers to the questions you should be asking, without you having to ask them. Sometimes letting the doctor provide a lot of the initial information in a systematic way can be very helpful and make it easier to understand.
If you have reached the point of having an IVF consult, you have likely have eliminated most, if not all, other options of conceiving naturally, so a list of questions might have already started brewing in your mind. When you sit down to discuss this with your IVF doctor, its important that you bring every one of your thoughts, concerns, and questions to the table to ensure that your clinic is the right one for you.
A great place to start before going into your initial fertility consultation appointment, is to check as many online resources as possible to gain as much knowledge on your own as you can. A few trusted fertility resources include: SART, and Resolve.org.
Next, the questions. Here is a list that make a great starting point for your fertility consultation:
Clinic Procedural Questions:
- Do they offer a shared risk program? (Some clinics offer a flat rate, 3 fresh, 3 frozen cycles package)
- What is their policy on embryo transfers? 1 or 2? (Some people feel that clinics that are willing to transfer more than 2 are in it more for the positive ratings of pregnancy then the health and wellness of baby and mom. In the 20’s-30’s age bracket 2 transfers is the norm, while in the 40’s age bracket, 3 transfers is acceptable.)
- What does a cycle look like with their clinic? What type of timeline do they use, from start to finish?
- Who would you be working with? The nurse or the doctor? (You can also request to meet this nurse or any other person who will be directly supporting you in your fertility journey.)
- Is the clinic open for retrievals and transfers on weekends?
- Request information about the clinic’s past success rates: ask for the number of cycles they have done and their successes/failures.
- What is the clinics pregnancy success rate with people in your age bracket with similar infertility issues?
- How often does the clinic see OHSS cases (hyperstimulation – this typically this happens when the doctor overstimulates – we’re looking for low numbers here).
- Based on your medical history, what specific challenges do they foresee?
- Given your medical history, what percentage of success rate do they foresee for you to get pregnant with one fresh cycle?
- Clinics have a “base” medical IVF standard they use when starting patients on a med program. One thing you will want to know is based on your medical and fertility history, how will they adjust the medications specifically for you? (For example, if you have low progesterone, your doctor might determine you’d be at an advantage to start you higher than they typically do.)
- What kinds of fertility medications do they recommend for your particular kind of infertility, which are the cheapest fertility meds, which are the most trusted fertility medications, and which meds have they personally seen the most success with, for similar cases as yours?
Ask as many follow-up questions as you need to to feel comfortable, and don’t leave with any left hanging. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers that you are given. If they start using medical jargon, abbreviations, or fertility medication or procedure terms you’re not familiar with, stop them to ask them what certain medications or abbreviations mean. Your goal is to walk out of this appointment knowing that you understand the journey ahead of you, and have a firm understanding of what that specific fertility clinic or doctor can do for you and your specific case.
With a huge influx of facts and figures thrown at you, you may feel a bit overwhelmed when you leave. It’s okay to take time to decompress. Use your support units, partner, trusted friends or family members. If you still have questions, call the clinic back. And remember that you are a customer, paying them to provide a service, so you have absolutely every right to feel comfortable, satisfied, and safe during the entire fertility process.