First of all I want to say, I am not against IVF.  For many years now I have supported couples going through IVF and I refer couples to IVF when appropriate.

However I still see too many couples rushing into IVF because they are told they are too old and don’t have enough time due to poor tests like AMH and then choosing an IVF clinic or doctor because they have the best “success rates”.

Over the years from information that I have gathered from IVF doctors themselves like Dr Sher in the USA, a pioneer in IVF treatment, I have written about how IVF success rates can be manipulated and therefore may not be a great guide to which doctor or clinic you should choose.   This article, reminded me about this topic and that even IVF specialists like the one in this article know that the “success rate” is NOT a good indicator of who is the best doc for you but instead this “success rate” is extremely misleading.

Also keep in mind that as science comes up with more ways to see if embryos are free from chromosomal abnormalities, IVF success rates will increase but the number of babies may not.  The reason is, no one in conventional medicine is working on how to improve the health of the embryos.  They are just working on finding which ones have a better chance of implanting.  Therefore, there will be less transfers as they identify embryos that have chromosomal abnormalities and the success rates will go higher because there will be less transfer of poor quality embryos.  More patients will be told they have poor egg quality and they will need to have donor eggs instead of working on improving the health of the eggs or sperm.

Keep all of this in mind when discussing success rates with your doctor.  Ask if they cancel cycles if patients aren’t creating more than one or two eggs, instead of going ahead with the procedure.  If they cancel then they don’t have to add that to their procedures considered in their success rates.  Do they turn people away if in the past they have had an elevated FSH (even if current FSH is normal).  All of this will decrease the number of transfer they do and increase the chances of having better stats.

So if you are wanting to pursue IVF or are wondering if you are at the right clinic for you I want to share with you some simple points about what you can do to find yourself the best doctor for your situation.  Consider asking the above questions but also these steps are great for finding the IVF specialist that is right for you BUT really a good way to find any health practitioner.

1) Word of mouth.  Do you keep hearing people speak highly of a clinic or a practitioner?  Even if a person said they didn’t get pregnant but would still highly recommend that individual or clinic I would strongly suggest investigating them.

2) If you are taking or are supportive of natural therapies while doing IVF and/or in the lead up to, ask the receptionist,  nurse or if you have an appointment already with the doctor, the doctor him/herself to see what they think.  If its a flat out no then you may want to move on.  But if its an area of discussion then if its important to you, I would still consider this doctor and supply them with evidence from your natural therapist about how their modalities may support you while going through or leading up to the procedure.

3) Did you get your questions answered or was there even an opportunity to ask questions of the nurse or doctor?  I have to admit, sometimes there aren’t answers to all your questions BUT, re the answers you are getting, do they make sense to you? Or have they even given you a chance to ask any? If all you ever hear is, its your age or the health of your eggs but you know others in your age category are getting pregnant, I would encourage you to look for someone who will actually look beyond that “excuse”.  Because every time IVF doesn’t work, despite the fact that you hear almost every time it doesn’t work, that the health of the eggs is an issue, it simply cannot ALWAYS be an age or egg health issue.

4)  And a follow on point to number 3, is your doctor willing to do more and by more I don’t just mean up the dosage or increase the medications? Is your doctor supportive of further investigations or other procedures that you have looked into.  It doesn’t always mean they can do these other procedures but they might be able to refer to someone who can.  And further investigations can be as simple as further blood tests.

5) Do you feel supported and listened to by your doctor and his or her staff?  This is probably one of the most important.  Because if you are already doing a procedure you are a bit uncomfortable about (not many ppl would choose IVF if they didn’t feel they had to), you want caring medical professionals to work with who actually believe they can help you.  So even if the doc is too busy or doesn’t particularly seem caring but you are really convinced he or she is a great doc, is his or her support staff, admin or nurses supportive of you?

6) Follow up. Does your doctor or his or her staff follow up with you?  I know in my practice this is a difficult thing to do because we are a small business and staff and myself are already stretched but I have been incorporating new systems for follow up and communication that won’t require an extra staff member that I just can’t afford, however if you are paying $5000 to $10000 to an IVF clinic per cycle not including your clinic visits, in my opinion they would be more likely to have the financial resources to have a staff person follow up with you, even if it isn’t the doctor.   Granted their costs for equipment and staff would be higher than mine for sure but I know there are many clinics who do a great job with follow up so that is why I add this as a consideration here.

If you are currently with a clinic where you don’t feel supported then I suggest that you consider changing.  I know that in some cases due to your location and the number or lack of IVF clinics around you, this is not possible.  However I would suggest communicating with your doctor and or the nursing staff about what you feel you may need from them.  And in some cases that particular clinic may not be equipped to provide what you need, but at least you have had a hopefully thoughtful discussion about your situation.

Speaking candidly with your practitioner or simply asking them for more research on what they are saying to you.  Sometimes it may be necessary to politely disagree.  Though this can be intimidating, taking responsibility for what happens to you is quite important.  These days more ppl are realising they must take responsibility for their health and ask questions and do their own research (though this can certainly create frustration as well).

The point I am trying to make is if what you are doing isn’t working,  the days are over where we as consumers should just have to sit back and do what the doctor orders without question.  This is the same with any professional really, health care or not.  Be an active participant in your care.  And though some practitioners will find this annoying (usually because they don’t have any answers for you or the don’t believe in, understand or won’t consider any other alternatives), those who want to give you the best care they can will be open to hearing what you have to say.  And sometimes you will have to agree to disagree but a respectful conversation about your health and your results doesn’t hurt anyone.