( 15 MAR 2016 )

10 Questions to ask when choosing your Fertility Clinic
When a woman faces problem with conceiving naturally, the first person she usually turns to is her gynecologist who then carries out a preliminary analysis of her fertility by asking questions around her menstrual cycle, frequency of sexual activity, and general medical history.
The first recourse most primary doctors take is to provide you guidance about how your ovulation cycle works so that you can time your sexual activity to increase the chances of pregnancy. If needed, they may order a few lab tests and ultrasound scan to detect any hormonal imbalance or abnormality in the reproductive organs. Based on the results of these investigations, they will refer you to a fertility specialist for individualized and case-specific fertility treatment.

How to choose your fertility specialist/clinic
When looking for a fertility doctor, most couples go with the gynecologist’s recommendation or seek references from family and friends. Unfortunately, even educated and aware patients do not make the effort to learn more about the recommended fertility clinic. While there is nothing wrong with going by references, it will serve you in the long run if you do some preliminary research about the clinic before you commit to one.
Based on inputs from our patients, quite a number of whom claim to have suffered at the hands of sub-standard and commercially-oriented fertility centres, we have compiled a list of questions you might want to ask before you take this very important decision.
1. What is the fertility specialist’s qualification?
Before you choose your doctor, it may be a good idea to look up their qualifications, professional journey and experience. Knowing these facts about your doctor builds confidence and helps you adopt a more trusting outlook towards the treatment they will provide.
While looking for an internationally-trained fertility specialist may not be on top of your list, they would certainly have had more exposure to advanced treatment modalities and international standards of fertility treatment.
2. Does the clinic provide the whole range of fertility treatments, or more specifically, do they offer the treatment you need? The most common treatment options in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) include IUI, IVF, ICSI, Frozen Embryo Transfer, Egg Donation, Sperm Donation, and Surrogacy.
A good fertility clinic would have a panel of experienced doctors who are equipped to provide a wide range of fertility services to patients.
3. Does the clinic have the infrastructure to offer you the latest fertility treatments?
You will likely have no way of knowing the level of infrastructure and lab facilities a clinic has to offer before you actually become a patient. One way to get this information is to visit the clinic and ask relevant questions (see below). The clinic’s website can also provide you useful information about the services they offer.
Some treatment-related questions to ask:
• Do you offer blastocyst-stage transfer?
• Do you offer embryo freezing? If yes, do you have the facilities to freeze by Vitrification?
• Do you offer egg/sperm donation if required? If yes, how does it work?
It is important for you to not get intimidated by these terminologies and prepare yourself beforehand so that you know what you are talking about.
4. Is the clinic equipped to treat male-factor infertility?
All fertility clinics claim to offer male infertility treatments; however only a few have the expertise to provide these services. If you have been diagnosed with male-factor infertility, you may want to find out if the clinic is equipped to treat male fertility and what treatment options are available.
5. How many cycles of a treatment does the clinic offer before trying another approach?
It will help to find out in advance how many rounds of IUI/IVF/ICSI you will receive as part of your treatment package. For example, at Shantah Fertility Centre we offer our patients 3 rounds of IVF. Most patients are able to conceive successfully in the first or second cycle. In the rare case when IVF does not work for a patient, appropriate alternative treatment is suggested.
6. Does the clinic offer counselling services?
Counselling is a very important part of infertility treatment as it helps couplescope with inter-personal issues, infertility-related stress and family expectations. Today counselling has become an indispensable part of fertility treatment at most fertility clinics that adhere to international standards.
The counselling program at Shantah Fertility Centre is managed by experienced and professionally trained counsellors who work with you and your partner to make your journey to fertility as smooth as possible.
7. What diagnostic tests will I need to undergo before and during treatment?
It will be difficult for your doctor to provide a definitive answer to this question before they have obtained a background of your reproductive history. However, they can provide you a reference list of the investigations you or your partner may need to undertake for proper diagnosis of your condition.
8. What are the clinic’s overall and treatment-specific success rates?
While it’s good to know the success rates of a clinic, your decision should not be based on this aspect alone as success rates can vary over a period of time. However, you may want to inquire about the following:
• Average success rate with respect to pregnancies achieved
• Average success rate with respect tolive births
• Experience with previously failed IVF cases
• Information on multiple births in a year
9. What is the estimated cost of treatment?
Many clinics today offer treatment packages which are inclusive of a certain number of treatment cycles, investigations, key procedures and after-care services. You may want to check with your clinic about their treatment plans, inclusions in a plan, and payment options.
10.Last but not the least; is the clinic’s environment conducive to your needs?
Fertility treatment can involve frequent visits to your clinic and multiple interactions with the staff. It is the responsibility of the clinic staff to make you feel comfortable, respected and cared for. A chaos-free, calm and welcoming environment helps you de-stress and speak about your concerns freely.

Remember, it’s your right to expect quality in all aspects of your fertility treatment. Need further guidance or an Expert second opinion? Get in touch with us here.