By Professor Dr Geeta Nargund, Medical Director, CREATE Fertility.
Starting IVF treatment can be overwhelming, and choosing the right fertility clinic will have a big impact on your overall experience.
When choosing the right fertility clinic for you, you should try to gather as much information as possible. Here are our top questions to ask any clinic before going ahead with treatment:
1. How do you know which treatment is best for me?
No one patient, their situation and their history is exactly the same. Therefore it is important that treatment is personalised to your situation and medical history.
A clinic should conduct comprehensive tests to identify your fertility status before recommending a treatment plan.
Please be aware that there are different approaches to IVF and most IVF clinics offer what is referred to as ‘conventional IVF’. However, there are also Natural and Mild stimulation approaches which involve fewer injections, less medication and are more gentle on your body.
You should understand all of the treatment options available to you before making a decision. There has been growing scientific evidence that ‘Mild IVF’ has similar success rates to ‘conventional’ IVF’ and it is safer and costs less. Why take more drugs and health risks if you can avoid it? Please explore options of Mild and Natural IVF before you make decision about your treatment option.
If you are looking into a certain kind of treatment, question the clinic on their expertise and success rates in offering this treatment specifically.
2. What do your success rates measure and are they relevant to me?
You will also need to understand what their success rates mean and if they relate to you. The figures will depend on the clinics selection criteria (age group, ovarian reserve and other prognostic factors) as well as what exactly is being measured.
Are they looking at clinical pregnancy (foetal heartbeat) or live births, are they measuring success per cycle, per patient or per embryo transfer? Which treatment are these figures based on?
It’s important the clinic explains this clearly and helps you understand if the figures are relevant to your circumstances.
3. What will happen during my treatment journey?
Embarking on the IVF journey can be bewildering and patients often feel out of control. Ask your clinic to provide a clear outline of what your treatment journey will look like. Knowing what will happen at each stage of the treatment can help patients feel more comfortable and in control.
4. Have you had any patients admitted to hospital as a result of OHSS?
It’s crucial to be aware that there are some risks involved in IVF treatment. OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome) is a clinical condition which results from overstimulation of ovaries. In its severe form, it can be life threatening. Ask your clinic if they have had any patients admitted to hospital as a result of severe OHSS, as this may be an indication that stimulation protocols are not modern and personalised to prevent OHSS and you should consider if this is the right approach to treatment for you.
5. How much will my treatment cost?
Before agreeing to undergo treatment, you should be clear about and understand all costs involved. The total treatment cost will vary depending on the clinic chosen, the procedures recommended and additional medication and tests needed; always question and voice any concerns regarding additional recommendations, to avoid unnecessary costs.
If you ever find yourself in need of additional information, the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) website can be a very useful tool.