Let's suppose you are a woman who has been trying to conceive for a year or more. You are 35, and your husband is 38. You have had every kind of blood test and ultrasound test imaginable, and your gynecologist has had you keep a temperature record for months. Your husband has had a thorough checkup at the urologist and has a low sperm count.
Your combination of issues makes you prime candidates for treatment at a fertility clinic. But before you go, there are some things you need to know.
The first thing to understand about treatment at fertility clinics is that you are likely to develop a very close relationship with your doctor. That's only natural because your doctor and associates will be available to you essentially around the clock 365 days a year to help you find that exact moment when you are most likely to conceive. Many times one partner or the other becomes reticent to break ties with the fertility specialist and this can keep you from exploring other options in a timely fashion.
The other thing to understand about treatment at fertility clinics is that it is extremely expensive, not guaranteed to work, and something you are likely to have to pay for yourself. Knowing your limits ahead of time can keep you from getting talked into some new procedure that may not work, that you may not want, and that you may not be able to afford.
The process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is usually an emotional roller coaster. You are likely to have your hopes built only to be disappointed more than once. You need to consider whether your marriage, your children, and your jobs can survive the stress and cost of attempting in vitro fertilization.
How can you find the right in vitro fertilization clinic? A good indication is that the clinic does not automatically accept you. The best doctors will only accept patients they believe they can help. A clinic that takes anyone and everyone who can plunk down $100,000 or more is probably not a clinic where you want to get treatment. And if the clinic proudly displays a photograph of a patient who took home 14 children, this might not be the clinic for you, either.
"Success rates" may be misleading. Sometimes better doctors take more difficult cases and have lower success rates. You are better off making your judgment on the basis of whether the doctor has taken the time to inform you very carefully of pros and cons of the treatment offered. You also want to make sure your clinic has excellent support staff. After all, you don't want your embryos going to another couple! Finding out how long the doctors and support staff have been with the clinic is a good indication of whether they will manage your case well. You will want to make sure the clinic has the latest technology.
It's a good idea to make sure that you, not your doctor, make all the decisions about what happens to your eggs and embryos. And you will want to know exactly what treatment will cost. If you call a clinic and they don't have time to answer your questions, go elsewhere. If they don't have time for you before you are a patient, they may not have time for you when you are a patient, either.