How to Choose a Top Fertility Doctor
How to pick a top fertility doctor
; course 101. You can get recommendations from everywhere, some places much more reputable, reliable and dependable than others. Doctors are pretty savvy these days. You will see advertisements on billboards, in the yellow pages, magazines, newspapers, all over the internet, on television. You will hear advertisements on the radio as well. In some ways, you can barely escape the marketing that swirls around. Here, there are three ways that are reliable, can work together and that are safer than picking a doctor from the yellow pages.
3 Tips for Choosing Top Fertility Doctors
1) Ask your primary physician for a direct referral.
Hopefully, you are talking to either your primary physician or Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/Gyn) if you are trying to conceive. Your OB/Gyn will generally know the specialists (reproductive endocrinologists) in the area, either through the hospitals where they attend meetings together, or from residency programs or even just from practicing medicine in the same area for a period of time. They will also hear things that perhaps a lay person would not; how well regarded the specialist is in the medical field. While your OB/Gyn may not share all the information that they have with you, rest assured it is part of why he/she is referring you to a specific physician. Sometimes your doctor will send you to the closest doctor in the area, sometimes they will send you to a doctor who they feel might be a better temperament for your personality. If you want to know why they are referring you to a specific doctor, ask them. Some OB/Gyn's are aware of pregnancy rates from a particular reproductive endocrinologists program or specific procedures that they feel you may need.
2) Learn more about a reproductive endocrinologist that you are considering seeing by visiting SART and CDC websites.
Both of these organizations give you specific data that is controlled and proven to be true. Neither website accepts advertising and the information that they release is not based simply on what a clinic says but on particular data that they check. The SART and CDC reports have become easier to read over the years and it is simple to compare two clinics in a close geographical area.
Careful about deciding on a reproductive endocrinologist simply on the pregnancy rate though, for a few reasons. One, the SART report is typically two years behind. Right now, they are reporting on 2008, so information is not up to date. Second, this is the disclaimer that SART puts at the bottom of each clinic summary, "Caution: Patient characteristics vary among programs; therefore, these data should not be used for comparing clinics." Of course, that's in the small type, running alone the bottom, barely noticeable. The treatment type on the summary clinic is IVF (in vitro fertilization) only; nothing is mentioned about other types of infertility treatment, such as IUI (intrauterine insemination). It's good to understand what "patient characteristics" mean though. Some clinics will routinely not treat patients with an FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level above a certain number. Some clinics will not accept patients into their programs who have been unsuccessful for a certain amount of IVF cycles at another clinic. Maternal age (how old the woman is) also factors into a clinics decision about treatment. Third reason to avoid choosing a clinic solely on pregnancy rates is the still somewhat confusing information listed by SART. As they don't subdivide by diagnosis, simply choosing your age group does not give you an accurate idea of your individual chances of pregnancy.
Absolutely the SART report (I was not able to find a report more recent than 2006 on the CDC website so I am not going to discuss it here) has valuable information and is a good way to compare clinics for certain things. An invaluable and reliable resource, definitely.
3) Look at a prospective fertility doctor's website.
You'll find information about whether that doctor would be a good fit for you. What do they choose to say about themselves? Using what language? What treatment options do they offer?
What types of support programs are available? Do they have mental health professionals on staff? How much information do they actually disclose in terms of their credentials, certifications, degrees? Do they have educational materials on their website? One simple way to ascertain the level of training and proficiency is to check whether a doctor is a board certified reproductive endocrinologist.
A physician referral, the SART report, and what the doctors say about themselves are three methods to choosing a doctor. They are not exclusive of each other. When I choose a doctor, I use all three. I ask for a referral from a doctor that I already trust and respect, then I go see what else I can find out about them through medical organizations and their websites.
Coming into a consultation with a doctor that you all ready trust because of the research that you have done can bring a level of comfort that would not be there otherwise. That comfort can go a long way when you are worried about trying to conceive.
Take some of the worry out of the picture by choosing a doctor in a way that feels safe and comfortable for you. Please share other ways that have worked well for you, perhaps it will help someone else.