What to look for when picking a fertility clinic

You’ve hopped online to research fertility clinics because you hope to go to one for the first time or you’re looking to change fertility clinics. This is a decision that will change the course of your fertility journey and you’re probably eager to get moving. I get it.

Not to stress you out more, but you do need to advocate for yourself i.e. you need to do your homework.

Take a deep breath. I’m here to help with that.

Before I share a helpful list, keep in mind that during this stage in the pandemic many clinics aren’t operating as they’d wish. Many aren’t giving the individualized care as they normally give and some mistakes are happening. If you’re looking to change clinics it might be because you encountered one or more negative experiences. But know that you’ll probably find some kind of challenge or many challenges no matter which clinic you choose right now.

That’s something to consider.

Above all else, factor in what’s most important to you — and if applicable, what’s important to your partner.

How to pick your fertility clinic

  • Your specific fertility case for you (and your partner, if applicable). Meaning, it depends what your cause of infertility is and your health. It could be unexplained or male factor, or female factor or both. Within those, there are further sub categories. You may also be a same sex couple and/or one or both of you is transgender. That’s not a complete list but flagging for you that it’s a key consideration for choosing your fertility clinic. Some clinics specialize in different areas so choose a compatible one. For example, some are more specialized in immune disorders, while another in PCOS or sperm tese.
  • Outcomes. Check the reviews and outcomes for each clinic you’re considering e.g. live births rates. The stats are often on their website. Or ask. Check which is best rated based on their reviews by patients as well.
  • Costs. They vary. Check if you can be covered by your provincial government (Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, NFLD and New Brunswick) as a starting point. Also check employee benefits for meds and/or procedures. You might have some or all covered. If all else is equal, there can be slight differences in fee structures from clinic to clinic. Again, this might depend on your specific case. For example, if you know you’ll do a frozen transfer then find a clinic that has a fee structure that fits with that need. Although you’ll find your needs may change as treatment is underway.
  • Wait times. Some clinics have long wait times, even just to have the initial consult. Others are shorter. It depends on how eager you are to get started and if it works with any other procedure you might need in the meantime, such as having a polyp removed or endo surgery.
  • Word of mouth. Talk to current and past patients from each fertility clinic in infertility support groups or ask the clinic to find you someone to talk to. If you know someone personally you trust, that’s gold.
  • Location. Near your home is best. Depending on what your treatment is you might be going in daily or several times a week for tests. Look into whether you can get bloodwork and ultrasound tests closer to home and only go in to your fertility clinic when it’s necessary. If you’re in a rural location look up satellite possibilities with a partnering clinic. Or consider out of province or temporarily moving to a city for about a year. I know that has a major implication on your life, but it’s an option for some people. If you don’t have a fertility clinic in your province or territory then you’ve got even more options to factor in.
  • Staying with family or friends. If you’re travelling far for your treatment, consider who you could stay with at low cost or for free. Perhaps it’s your aunt in Ottawa or your cousin in Kitchener.
  • Is the clinic lab in-house or outsourced. Depending on your needs and especially if you have had multiple failed cycles or identified your in need of interventions that require some of the latest technology, find out if the clinic you’re researching has a lab director, technicians and if they operate an in-house lab or outsource elsewhere.

Bonus tip: For Canadians, if your clinic is more than 80km away you should be able to submit tax receipts for mileage, meals and accommodation.

Bonus tip: The Caribbean, Mexico, Turkey, several European countries and other countries were seeing Canadian patients for fertility treatments before the pandemic and will probably be again. However, these are likely challenging option with Covid19 in our lives. Most women and couples aren’t waiting. If you’re able to wait, that may cut costs significantly or open up other options. Just remember that standards won’t be the same as in Canadian clinics.

  • Interactions with the potential fertility doctor (RE). Talk to the potential doctor. See if their communication and style fits with yours and if you trust them. Having a warm interaction with their RE is important to some couples, while for others who have an RE who is blunt is completely fine if they’re getting their medical needs met. It’s so personal. No judgment. It just matters what makes this smoother and successful for you.
  • Your family doctor’s suggestion. If you know your family doctor well and trust that they know you, they should be helpful in your search. Do your own homework though. They aren’t fertility specialists. They should have some knowledge and that knowledge can vary widely from doctor to doctor.
  • Keep in mind you usually need a referral from a family doctor to go to a fertility clinic. But you should be able to request which one to choose. Others you can self refer.

If you need more information and assistance figuring out what is personally most important to you in deciding, book a call with me. Get even more informed and ready.

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