Q. What are your qualifications?
Ask about their medical background, including training, accreditations, and experience. Most reproductive endocrinologists (RE) have undergone six or seven years of formal specialty and subspecialty training after medical school and are experts in treating reproductive disorders.
Your RE may be a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI), the Society of Reproductive Surgeons (SRS), as well as certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Your Reproductive Endocrinologist has a specialty in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as a subspecialty in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Q. What are my chances for achieving pregnancy?
Each case of infertility is unique and certain risk factors can make you more or less likely to conceive with fertility treatment. Talk openly about your personal risk factors with your doctor. Review your medical history to understand your best options for conceiving and having a healthy baby.
Q. What types of fertility testing will I undergo?
Your doctor will evaluate both partners and try to identify your specific infertility issues. In general, women will be tested to evaluate their uterus and fallopian tubes. A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and pelvic ultrasound are often recommended. Confirmation of ovulation and tests to assess ovarian reserve (blood levels of AMH or FSH and estradiol on day 2 or 3 of your menses) are frequently measured. Evaluation of the male usually begins with a semen analysis to assess sperm parameters, including sperm count, shape and movement.
Q. Who performs the procedures?
Clarify who you will primarily interact with during your treatment. In some practices, you will be seen almost exclusively by a RE or their colleagues. In other practices, nurses and technicians may perform the majority of your procedures.
Q. Who will be my point of contact?
Learn who will be answering your questions and the most efficient way to communicate with the office about your procedures.
Q. Is there an age “cut-off” for specific treatments?
While there is no universally agreed upon age cutoff, many clinics will not perform IVF on a woman over the age of 45 using her own eggs. They will only be offered treatment using donor eggs or donated embryos.
Q. What is your success rate with IVF?
Most fertility clinics report their IVF success rates to the Society for Assisted Reproduction Technology (SART). However, clinics have different ways of measuring success. You should ask the reproductive endocrinologist about the live birth rate of a woman (or couple) with a similar diagnosis, age and treatment plan. This will give you a clearer idea of what you might expect with fertility treatment and the chances of having a healthy baby.
Q. What are side effects of fertility treatments?
It’s important to ask about the side effects you may experience from fertility treatments. Side effects depend on the the type of fertility treatment you receive. Some common side effects from the use of fertility medications may include mood swings, hot flashes, bloating, and fluid retention. However, most women report that these side effects don’t disrupt their daily activities.
Q. How much will fertility treatment cost?
The fertility clinic should inform you of the actual cost of your specific treatment plan, including medications. Health insurance plans may pay for all or part of your infertility treatment. Many fertility centers have payment plans and bundled services. In addition, some pharmaceutical companies offer free or reduced costs for medications for patients contingent upon their household incomes.
Q. Do they encourage or recommend complementary or alternative medicine?
An increasing number of fertility clinics encourage the use of complementary and alternative medicine. This includes acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Reiki, massage therapy, yoga and meditation. Ask your RE if they support this approach and have a referral list for these types of practitioners.
Q. What outside resources do they recommend?
Your RE may be aware of some great resources such as certain magazines, books, support groups, and therapists to help you manage the emotional and physical aspects of your treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask as these can be valuable tools on your fertility journey.