If you’ve been struggling with conceiving, or believe that a health issue is holding you back from starting a family, it may be time to meet with a fertility doctor. Making the decision to schedule an appointment can be tough — and it definitely doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in any way. Instead, consider finding a fertility specialist is just a step in the journey to helping you start (or add to) a family.
But how do you find the best fertility doctor?
There are many factors that come into play when selecting the best possible fertility specialist. Fertility is a personal, sensitive issue, and you want to identify a doctor who treats you with respect, is well versed in their field, and can quickly put you on the right path that leads to a successful pregnancy. So, how do you narrow down the list of fertility specialists and clinics? Start with these guidelines.
Location, location, location
To start off your fertility doctor search, look for specialists and clinics near you. Because you could have a number of appointments, you’ll want to find a doctor that is within reasonable driving or traveling distance to ensure that you can easily make it to appointments and procedures. Residents of large cities may find a variety of doctors, compared to rural areas that have fewer offerings.
But keep in mind that just because a doctor or clinic is in a less populated area doesn’t mean it’s a lower-quality clinic; many fertility specialists in rural areas provide just as great care and treatment without the higher cost of a metro-region office.
Consider their specialties and experience
Take your list of regional fertility doctors and clinics, and let the narrowing begin. Review each doctor’s specialty area and see if it may apply to your position. If you’re choosing a fertility doctor for the first time, you may also consider a less-specialized provider who has more overall experience. In comparison, if your difficulty in conceiving is tied to a specific issue, you may want to choose a clinic that is more focused on that health issue.
It can also be beneficial to visit a doctor who works in a clinic setting, where many fertility specialists can pool research, ideas, and treatment options for the best approach to your fertility care.
Look at patient reviews and clinic success rate
Testimonials from previous patients can be a goldmine of knowledge because they give you insight in to how a fertility doctor or clinic operates. You’ll want to take note of the doctor’s bedside manner, how comfortable previous patients felt while under their care, and any issues that they report. Many fertility specialists and clinics also share their success rate, which is exceptionally important in making your decision. If a selected fertility doctor does not share their success rate, you can find their rating on the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) website. In the U.S., fertility clinics voluntarily report their success rates and stats to this organization.
Research the clinic or doctor’s insurance and pricing
The cost of fertility care and treatment is a major factor for many patients. It’s okay to have the cost of medication and treatments be a factor in your choice of a fertility specialist. Many doctors and clinics provide information on their websites about the insurance they accept, or their general pricing. If you are unsure if a potential fertility doctor accepts your health insurance, consider giving the office a call. The practice can clue you in on how they help new patients cover the cost of fertility treatment, and what financing options are available.
If you’ve found the best fertility doctor but feel like the price is too much, there are still other options for covering the expense of your treatment. Many practices offer payment plans or financial assistance, and there are countless organizations that offer grants and aid for individuals who are undergoing IVF and other fertility treatments.
While cost is a heavy factor, remember that like in most walks of life, you get what you pay for. A doctor with a lower success rate or more negative patient reviews may offer a less-expensive treatment option. You’ll want to weigh cost alongside other factors to ensure that you’re making the best choice.
In some cases, even if a specific fertility doctor charges more, their higher success rate means you could end up paying less because they are able to quickly identify fertility issues and prescribe the best course of treatment right off the bat — as opposed to another doctor who charges less, but goes through many rounds of medications and treatments to narrow during your treatment time.
Go for a consultation
After shortening your list of prospective fertility doctors, it’s time to book consultations. These interviews are the final step in choosing the best fertility doctor, and give you one-on-one time with the provider to determine the best fit. You’ll want to observe how the practice works — from scheduling to arriving and interacting with office staff, to the end of your appointment — and take that into consideration.
You may find that you like a particular doctor’s office but not necessarily the specialist himself, and in this case you can consider switching to another fertility doctor within the clinic or finding a new doctor altogether. During these consultations, you’ll want to inquire about how the fertility doctor approaches fertility issues, and consider their plan for your unique situation. Follow your gut through the process, and don’t be afraid to attend multiple consultations to find the best fertility doctor for you.