When Is It Time To Seek A Fertility Second Opinion?
In this baby-making world I’m so lucky to work in, I often find myself listening to clients and people in my community as they express frustrations with their fertility clinic.
I understand the irritation. If you’re going through IVF, you’re spending your money, time, and likely blood, sweat, and tears, desperately wishing for everything to go right. The stakes feel high - because they are. The last thing you need is to feel unsupported by the professionals you’re entrusting with your deepest dream.
Sometimes we have a hard day and simply need to vent. But I want to make it clear that there is a big difference between the “normal” stressors IVF brings and your clinic actually making it a more stressful experience.
Valid Reasons to Change Fertility Clinics
Getting opinions from multiple fertility clinics is often a good, even great, idea. Many offer virtual consults, and some even offer free second opinions.
It’s especially important to get more opinions if you’ve begun working with a clinic and are experiencing:
● Feeling like a number & unsupported
● Disconnect or not feeling heard with your medical team
● Feeling in the dark, adding unnecessary stress to an already stressful experience
● Difficulty accessing the information or responses you need
● Financial or insurance challenges
● Lack of connection to your IVF coordinator
● Un-ideal physical distance to the clinic
● Simply because you just want to!
Each of these is a common reason people change clinics - don’t worry, you won’t be the first!
Where to Start
When you’re ready to seek out multiple opinions, here are two of the best places to start.
Real life referrals - Over 30% of Americans have done fertility treatments or know someone who has. There are likely people in your orbit who have been through this, even if you don’t know it! If you’re comfortable, start by asking your close friends and family members if they know anyone who has successfully conceived from IVF. If so, see if they can connect you. I know this may feel awkward, but many people want to talk about it. Who knows, you may even find yourself some IVF support buddies!
SART - Almost all U.S. fertility clinics report their statistics to SART, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. The clinics’ success rates are broken down by age and IVF treatment type, making this a great way to find fertility clinics from an unbiased, data-only perspective.
You can also browse Google, social media, and online forums. But, I find that starting with real life connections and SART will give you the highest-quality, most reliable information, saving you hours spent researching.
How to Prepare for Your Fertility Clinic Consults
Once you’re ready for your consultation (or a few of them), there are three important things to keep in mind.
It’s vital that you supply the clinic(s) with your records to review prior to your meeting. This should include your diagnostic testing and any previous fertility treatment records. It’s always helpful to have other fertility specialists with different education, training, and work experience put their minds on the case. Even other physicians at the very same practice may have different perspectives to add.
Having a clear idea of what matters to you about your fertility clinic will help you find that right fit. Success rates, yes, of course! But… how important is it that you feel emotionally supported by your clinic? What are your expectations in terms of communication and accessibility to information? We each have different priorities, and if we’re feeling frustrated with a clinic, it often means one of ours isn’t being met.
Know that having a consultation with another doctor does not lock anyone into proceeding with treatment. You're gaining information so you can make an informed choice. Sometimes a consult will help confirm your diagnosis, quelling any doubts you have. Other times you’ll realize it’s time to try a new clinic. Either way, you’ll leave the experience feeling more confident about and in control of your fertility treatment.
You Deserve Phenomenal Fertility Treatment
If someone needs heart surgery, they don’t think twice about asking their referring physician, PCP, friends, family, and neighbors for solid recommendations. They’ll likely also do their own research and weigh multiple options.
It seems that in other areas of healthcare, if something is wrong medically, people want to go to a doctor who is trusted, comforting, brilliant, and has a good success rate. It's normal to do due diligence before deciding who they want to do such an important life-changing procedure.
IVF is no different. You deserve to be in good hands.
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