Alright, you're doing this.
You have an appointment in the calendar for your first visit at the fertility clinic. Well done — I bet getting to this point wasn’t easy.
This first visit is usually a get-to-know-you meeting with lots of forms to fill out and medical questions to answer.
But don't let your reproductive endocrinologist (aka, fertility doctor) and the nurses do all the questioning. This is also your opportunity to get the answers that will help you (a) make sure this clinic is a good fit for you and (b) understand what to expect during your fertility journey.
5 Important Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor At Your First Visit
People — especially women — often struggle to speak up in medical situations. Remember that the fertility clinic is there to serve you.
What types of treatments do you offer?
You may have a sense of what you need when you head to your first appointment. But you might not, and fertility journeys can sometimes take us places we didn't anticipate. Find out whether the clinic you're working with will be able to support you no matter how the process goes.
Most clinics offer a range of standard treatments including ovulation induction, in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and egg donation.
Not all clinics do genetic embryo testing (PGS), natural killer cells testing, and some other more expensive treatments. Asking the clinic what their latest service addition is might give you a clue about how advanced the clinic is.
You might want a clinic with the most advanced processes or a clinic that has the most affordable packages. Either way, make sure you understand what you're getting.
What are my chances of getting pregnant?
Of course, you'd love a clinic to be able to tell you there's a 100% chance they'll get you pregnant. Unfortunately, they can't tell you that. The best they can do is give you an educated guess based on your fertility factors and their past experience.
Every clinic publishes their success rates, but remember: you're not a statistic, and your situation isn't the exact same as anyone else's.
Ask the doctor what your personal success rate might be and what they're considering in providing their answer.
Then treat that number with a lot of caution. Don't panic about it if it's low, and don't let it get your hopes up too much if it's high. In general terms, every round of IVF has a 5-50% chance of working.
That's a wide interval with lots of room for surprises and disappointment. Remember that strong women like you beat the odds all the time.
How much will this cost? Are their hidden costs?
Prices for fertility treatments vary widely among different clinics. And there are often additional costs that aren't covered by a published price.
For instance, your clinic's fee for IVF likely will not include the cost of medication (which can run into the thousands for a single cycle). They may not include regular blood tests or additional scans. Make sure you understand what the maximum costs could be so that you're not blindsided by something you didn't anticipate.
The financial costs of fertility treatments can be soul-crushing. The best way to handle them is to be prepared.
Are there additional tests I need?
Many reproductive endocrinologists run a panel of hormone tests with first-time patients. These often include testing for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Vitamin D, anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Check in with the doctor to see if there are any tests that would give a clearer or more thorough picture of your particular fertility situation. Some people's specific health issues or past experiences (like repeat miscarriages) warrant additional lab work.
If you have lab results from previous clinics, bring them along to save some time and money.
Who do I contact for everyday questions?
This question doesn't have anything to do with your actual fertility, but it can have a big impact of your experience interacting with the clinic.
The bigger the clinic, the more likely it is that you'll communicate primarily with the nurses and not with the doctor. They may have specific protocols for how they receive and respond to questions.
Get email addresses (if they provide them), phone numbers, and after-hours emergency numbers so that you know who to contact with questions about medication, timing, and symptoms throughout your cycle.
You may not think you'll need them, but believe me: there'll be some Sunday morning when you have a frantic medication question, and you'll be happy you know who to contact.
Starting with a fertility clinic can be exciting and a little intimidating. Make sure to ask any questions you have and advocate for yourself. They're the fertility experts, but you're the expert on your body and your experience.
Words by: Monika Friedman, Monika Friedman Coaching
I am a Fertility Coach helping professional women like you increase your chances to get pregnant with less anxiety and more joy along the way. My Full-Circle Method is a holistic blend of solution-oriented coaching, powerful mind-body-connection techniques and a practical step-by-step guide addressing mindset, lifestyle and tactics along your fertility journey.
I’m a 4 time IVF warrior, a yoga teacher and a working mom with an MBA and 15 years of corporate experience under my belt. My own challenging journey to motherhood has made me passionate about helping you with yours.
I’m German native, but a global citizen at heart. I’ve lived and worked all over the world (Germany, US, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, UK), and now reside in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with my husband, daughter and red Labrador Retriever. I love re-watching Friends and never say No to chocolate. Have I mentioned chocolate?