Struggling to conceive is a frustrating, scary, overwhelming, and often isolating experience. Finding the right Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) is an important step to ensuring you have proper care to optimize your success. However, how do you even begin to find one?
Many rely on online support groups and friends for referrals. While these are helpful, one thing to keep in mind is a positive review tends to come when someone has had success and a negative review tends to occur when one did not have success. Thus, it is important to dig into why a given clinic is or is not recommended using this route.
The good news is there are great resources available to be an adjunct to using word-of-mouth. What’s important to understand is finding a good clinic and understanding the cost implications go hand-in-hand, especially if you are limited on funds.
1. Check your insurance provider’s coverage
If coverage for services is important to your budget, check with your insurance carrier to determine which specialists in your area are covered. It is also important to understand what is covered in case you need to do a cost comparison of clinics. For example, fertility treatments involve diagnostic testing, routine blood work and ultrasound, IVF or IUI. Additionally, if you freeze eggs or embryos (and ultimately do a frozen embryo transfer), decide to do ICSI or PGT-A testing, those would be added costs that may or may not be covered.
2. Understand what other patients’ experience has been with a given REI
At Fertility IQ, you can search for a doctor reviewed by previous patients’ experiences. With 35,000 patients reviewing REIs, this is a great database with helpful comments from patients. You can also select criteria to narrow down the list of possible REIs.
We strongly recommend you read the reviews patients have provided. As mentioned above, positive reviews tend to come when one has had success and negative reviews tend to come when one has been unsuccessful. The reviews will help you dig into important details for a given REI.
3. Know your clinic’s success rates – clinic by clinic
To understand a given clinic’s success rates, it is recommended that you select a clinic who also reports its data on Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).However, you can only search one clinic at a time. While clinics are not mandated to report, when they do report, they must fill out a form to ensure consistency in how success rates are calculated.
4. Run a cross-clinic comparison of success rates
Below are key reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will help you select your doctor. Again, clinics are not mandated to report success rates but when they do, they must fill out the form to ensure consistent calculations for success rates.
2016 ART Clinic Success Rates Report, which provides instructions and state-level reporting.
2016 National Summary, which lists ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) success rates.
Analyze cross section of clinics’ success rates. Let’s say you live in Tampa and have access to several clinics. You can sort those clinics in your area and compare results.
One idea to consider with clinics is to focus on consultations first. Let’s assume you have a few clinics in mind and are struggling to narrow the choices. It is much less expensive (and may be covered by insurance) to pay for several consults and pick the right clinic for you. Why? Data shows it takes an average of 2.4-2.7 IVFs to get pregnant. This can run you $60,000. However, a consult usually costs no more than $500.
Some feel obliged to stay with a clinic because they already paid for the consult, even if they are not satisfied. However, struggling to conceive is a difficult journey and the more you can remove things that stress you out, the better your journey will be.
It is understandable you want to find a clinic and get started, especially if you are feeling the pressure of the biological clock. However, most important is doing your homework up front and picking the clinic that best suits your needs. In the long run, this is what saves you the most time and money as well as minimizes your angst.