In the past decade, ART (assisted reproductive technology) has witnessed several breakthroughs which make infertility treatments such as IVF more patient-friendly and also greatly affect success rates. Unfortunately, not all fertility clinics have the resources or the expertise to pass on the benefits of these latest advances to their patients. As a result, thousands of unsuspecting childless couples pay for sub-par treatment at mediocre infertility clinics that still use conventional equipment and/or procedures.
The purpose of this blog post is to help safeguard the best interests of childless individuals contemplating fertility treatment.
How to choose your fertility clinic
Choosing your IVF fertility clinic can be a daunting task, and many people tend to go by recommendations from family and friends. Referrals are good, however choosing where you go for treatment should be a decision based on information rather than just plain recommendation. Do thorough research; learn more about the doctors on panel, the infrastructure, services offered and the facilities provided at the clinic. Look for an experienced fertility specialist with a credible track record.
Once you have shortlisted a clinic, enquire if they are equipped to provide the latest infertility treatments. For example, many IVF clinics in India still use the conventional IVF treatment methods which involve prolonged treatment with injectables. The latest advances in IVF have made the treatment mush less painful for patients. This technology, adopted by Gaudium IVF many years back, involves only 8-9 days of injectables with minimal risk of hyper-stimulation of the ovaries.
To be sure of your decision, here is a list of questions to consider when selecting your fertility clinic:
- Is the clinic registered with the relevant Government body?
- What are the procedures offered at the clinic?
- What is the fertility specialist’s qualification and experience?
- Does the clinic treat male infertility?
- What are the treatments available for male infertility?
- What is the clinic’s cumulative success rate?
- What is the success rate of the treatment suggested for you?
- What is the number of live births or take-home baby rate?
- What is their success rate with previously failed IVF?
- Does the clinic perform blastocyst-stage transfer (embryo transfer on day 5 or 6 of fertilization, which is known to improve chances of pregnancy)?
- Is the centre equipped with the latest state-of-the-art lab and equipment?
- Does the clinic perform oocyte freezing and embryo freezing? If yes, do they follow the conventional slow-freezing method or the new Vitrification method?
- Are there provisions to provide psychological counselling if required?
- What is the estimated cost of your treatment plan and what will it include?
- Is the clinic known to provide personalised patient care?
Once you are satisfied that you have made the right choice, schedule an appointment with the fertility specialist. Expect to be asked a range of questions surrounding your general health and detailed medical history. This would be likely accompanied by a physical examination, and an ultrasound of the uterus and the ovaries. A semen analysis may be ordered for the male partner.
Steer clear of a clinic where elaborate treatment plans are suggested without first obtaining your medical history. Ask why the recommended treatment is best suited for you and what other alternatives are available. [Here we must add that it is the patient’s duty to share all pertinent information necessary for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.]
Following this, your doctor may advise further tests to confirm the preliminary diagnosis. At this point, you may find yourself wondering, “Why has the good doctor prescribed so many tests?”. The best way to resolve your concerns is to not feel intimidated by the complex medical jargon, and ask your doctor to explain what each test means and why it is needed.
Doctors understand your concerns, and in most cases, you will get these answers without asking.
Once your doctor recommends a line of treatment, seek to learn more about it. Knowing what you are getting into brings a sense of control, reduces anxiety and boosts patient-doctor trust
Avoid miracle cures
Avoid infertility treatment ‘centres’ offering miracle cures and 100 percent success with pregnancy. Infertility is not something you can treat or cure with pills from the local pharmacist, or by trying remedies suggested by the local quack. It needs proper diagnosis and timely treatment by an experienced fertility doctor. Men, in particular, should not resort to ‘miracle cures’ to increase sperm count or to treat erectile dysfunction.
Taking a second opinion
Infertility treatment can be a long and exhausting process for couples, and you may reach a juncture when you or your partner feels the need to get a second opinion. If you strongly feel that you could use another expert viewpoint, consult a reputed fertility specialist to get a fresh perspective of things.
In the end, it’s important that the clinic you have chosen is a reputable organization known to function with integrity and transparency, and a team of doctors who have your best interests at heart.
Have a question? Consult Dr. Manika Khanna for a Free Second Opinion.