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Thoughts on Choosing a Fertility Doctor

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A blog by Rhonda Levy, April 17, 2014

Resist the Temptation to Focus on the "Relationship"
As you enter the world of assisted reproductive technology (ART), it is tempting to focus your initial attention on the physician who will help you overcome your difficulties in conceiving a baby. Your goal is a personal and intimate one, and your relationship with your physician will be equally so. It is perfectly logical to give thought to what you need from that relationship; and in a perfect world, what you need, at least in part, is kindness and compassion. Turning to ART to conceive your baby has its challenges in the best of circumstances and a little warmth goes a long way.

Make the Quality of the Fertility Clinic Your Primary Consideration
But warmth, kindness and compassion are - by a long shot - not all that you need from your physician. While your doctor's approach to interacting with patients should be a consideration, in my view it should be a secondary consideration. What you need most from your physician is a cutting edge fertility clinic with a world class lab; and ensuring that your doctor is affiliated with such a clinic should be your primary consideration. If your physician practices medicine within a fertility clinic that is of only average or inferior quality, you will place yourself at risk of spending more money than necessary, and of suffering the emotional heartache of multiple failed IVF cycles. That is why I strongly recommend that you first choose a fertility clinic that will give you maximum potential for success, and then choose a physician within that clinic who is known to have a bedside manner that is compatible with your needs. That said, if you are a woman of advanced age, once you choose a clinic it would be a mistake to let time pass while you hold out for a particular physician. Since a woman's fertility declines with age, it is important that you keep as much time as possible on your side.

Understand the Benefit of the Fertility Clinic "Brain Trust"
The fact is that once you have chosen a high quality fertility clinic your primary physician's identity is not of absolutely critical importance. For one thing, in a superior fertility clinic you can generally rest assured that all physicians are highly competent. In addition, you may not see as much of your primary physician as you might hope. In most clinics, the physicians rotate with respect to the daily responsibility for morning ultrasounds. In other clinics, it is skilled technicians, rather than physicians, who conduct the ultrasounds. In addition, physicians within a fertility clinic tend to rotate with respect to egg retrievals and embryo transfers, with one physician responsible for conducting them each day; there is generally no guarantee that a patient will have her primary physician conduct either procedure. In addition, in most fertility clinics, patients enjoy the benefit of the entire fertility clinic's brain trust. The physicians consult with one another regularly, especially with regard to cases that involve difficult judgment calls. Your primary physician may be your "quarterback" throughout your cycle, answering your questions as they arise. That is certainly an important role, however your choice of fertility clinic is of overriding importance.


Comments (3)

Great advice, patients often make decisions about their care based on feelings rather than facts. Choose a clinic and physician based on competence not whether you would choose them as a friend.

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