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Five Things To Consider When Selecting a Fertility Doctor
a blog by Suzanne Rico, August 2, 2012
I struck gold with my second fertility doctor, who was recommended by a high-risk pregnancy specialist who had just informed me I had miscarried for the second time. And while it’s too late now to go back and choose him first, I sometimes wonder what might have been different had I been under his care from the beginning.
Finding the right baby-maker is arguably the most important decision someone considering ART (assisted reproductive technology) will make. So, from someone who has “been there, done that," here are five things to consider.
- Consult those who HAVE been there. Information on specific fertility specialists, feedback, and advice is available on-line. FertileThoughts.com, FertilityAuthority.com’s sister site, is the world’s largest community-based site for fertility related issues and its content is completely objective. If you were taking a vacation, you might consult TripAdvisor.com before booking a hotel, right? So why not get some independent reviews of the candidates that might end up leading your baby quest?
- Consult with several doctors before making a choice. Consultations can be costly, but some doctors will discount this fee, especially if another patient or doctor has referred you. Some doctors don’t charge at all for this service. If you must travel for treatment, consider using Skype, or some other kind of on-line video conferencing. This isn’t as good as a face-to-face meeting, but it’s better than a phone call.
- After meeting the candidates, ask yourself three questions. Did you feel a gut level connection with the doctor? Did you feel like he/she was willing to become personally invested in helping you reach your baby goals? Did he/she have a positive, proactive plan to get you there? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, keep looking.
- Do your research. Is the doctor actually a Reproductive Endocrinologist? Some OB/GYNs offer fertility services, but RE’s have a higher level of training and experience with infertility. What are his/her credentials? Is he/she board certified? This is not a deal killer, but it’s good to know. Some doctors have completed the training but have not yet taken the certification test. What does a Google search show? Keep in mind that every doctor is going to have some patient in their past who was not fully satisfied—what you don’t want to see is a pattern of complaints.
- Trust your instinct. Choosing the doctor with the best statistics won’t necessarily get the job done. I did that the first time, in the mistaken belief that applying simple math (high success rate + cash to pay for IVF = my very own baby human) would surely work. And while I never quite trusted or felt cared for on a personal level by my first RE, I stayed for two cycles anyway, stressful months that ended in painful failures.
But don’t just listen to my advice. I asked several fertility doctors in my area of the country (California) to give me their top tip. Each of them focused on the importance of not just applying the latest science, but of caring for the soul.
“When choosing a doctor, their technical expertise is as important as their ability to create an environment of compassion.” William Hummel, M.D., San Diego Fertility Center
"Selecting a fertility specialist is often as important as meeting Mr. Right — but in this case it's about finding Dr. Right. Locate a well established doctor who acts in your best interest, communicates well, and does not sugar coat your odds for success by using budget pricing or slick financial offers." David Diaz, M.D., West Coast Fertility Centers
"The key factor in findings the right RE for you, besides success, is he/she listening to and understand your needs." Bill Yee, M.D., Reproductive Partners Medical Group
“A good fertility specialist will first listen to you and consider all of the options available before deciding on a treatment. All factors must be carefully considered and optimized to get the best possible outcomes for a patient. The right doctor can also help you understand the process, guide your expectations, be sensitive to your needs and reduce the stress of treatments.” Ruth Lahti, M.D., Stanford Fertility And Reproductive Medicine Center
“In weighing choices of fertility doctors, facts and statistics such as pregnancy success rates are important considerations. But so is choosing the team that will be taking care of you. I believe personally (and many patients of ours would agree), that the physician should be engaged in advocating for your best interest throughout the treatment process with passion.” James Lin, M.D., Reproductive Fertility Center
“A couple having difficulty conceiving can feel quite vulnerable. It is important to choose an experienced fertility specialist with whom they feel completely comfortable." Mousa Shamonki, M.D., UCLA Fertility And Reproductive Health Center
"When selecting a doctor, academic qualifications, experience and good success rates are simply a starting point. It is the feelings of trust and comfort from a face to face interaction that tell you you’ve found what you’re looking for." Michael Vermesh, M.D., The Center For Fertility And Gynecology