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Finding the right fertility clinic: the key questions you should ask

Finding the right fertility clinic: the key questions you should ask

MEET THE EXPERT: Professor Dr Geeta Nargund, Medical Director, CREATE Fertility

For many the IVF journey can be fraught with emotion, involve a lot of new terminology and, crucially, can be extremely expensive.

When you are looking into a particular fertility clinic, treatment or doctor it is important to use initial consultations and open days to get all of the information possible in order to determine what is right for you. Here are our top questions to ask any clinic before you agree to treatment.

What sets your clinic apart from others?

Depending on their history, the expertise of their staff and their facilities, clinics will offer and specialise in different types of fertility treatments.

Look into the success rates for prospective clinic, but do so with caution. Bear in mind that not all clinics use the same criteria for measuring success rates and some will undertake certain measures to increase their averages, for example only accepting younger patients or not accepting those with certain conditions.

If you are looking for a certain kind of treatment then you will need to look into which clinics offer it and whether they have sufficient expertise in delivering it. As a next step, look at their success rates for that particular treatment and then ask about your predicted success rate at the clinic.

How do you decide which treatment is best for me?

No one patient, their situation and their history is the same and any treatment you receive should be tailored to your needs.

A single kind of IVF treatment is offered by some clinics, regardless of different patient needs. Be aware that this may not be the treatment that works best for certain conditions, such as endometriosis or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Which tests will you be carry out before I start treatment?

A clinic should perform thorough initial tests such as a fertility MOT on both you and your partner before treatment. These are crucial in identifying upfront causes of infertility and allowing a clinic to personalise your treatment programme. The result may mean that less invasive – and therefore lower cost treatments – would be suitable.

Determine upfront whether the clinic offers this service and which tests, and consider whether you are happy with this approach before proceeding.

Other than conventional IVF, what are the other kinds of treatments that are available?

As the IVF industry has evolved, there has been a growing awareness that ‘conventional’ IVF is not always the safest or most effective. Gentler, safer and more affordable treatments have now emerged as viable alternatives.

  • The aim of Natural Cycle IVF is to collect the one egg that has been naturally selected by the body. It is carried out without the use of fertility drugs.
  • Modified Natural Cycle IVF is a form of Natural Cycle IVF. Medication is given for 3-4 days in order to block spontaneous ovulation and a small dose of stimulation hormone is given in order to keep the follicles healthy and growing.
  • Mild Stimulation IVF is carried out within the natural menstrual cycle and uses minimal doses of fertility drugs. Stimulating medication is given for just 5-9 days, compared to the 4-5 weeks of medication used in conventional IVF.
  • In Vitro Maturation (IVM) is the collection of immature eggs from the ovaries, which are then matured in the lab. This treatment retains the benefits of IVF, but gives the opportunity for a number of embryos to be created.

Have you had patients admitted to hospital as a result of Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)?

OHSS is a condition affecting the ovaries of some women who undergo high stimulation IVF treatment. Most cases are mild, but in rare cases the condition can become severe and lead to serious illness or death

If a clinic has had patients admitted to hospital with OHSS then it may be an indication that they favour high doses of drugs and you should consider if this is the right approach for you.

How much will my treatment cost?

For your peace of mind it is crucial to be clear on the cost of treatment before you agree to start the process. Your total treatment cost will depend on the clinic you have chosen, procedures carried out and additional medication and tests.

To avoid unnecessary tests and costs, be clear on what your clinic offers and recommends at the outset of your treatment and ask to discuss the evidence behind specific additional tests or treatments to determine whether they are truly necessary.

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