Starting in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a big decision and a life-changing step in the process of having a baby. It can also be an emotional roller coaster that requires a substantial amount of money as well as dedication to the process. This is why your choice of which IVF clinic to work with is such an important one.
Choosing the best fertility clinic for you is highly dependent on your personal situation. Nonetheless, there are several common factors everyone should consider during their research and decision-making process.
While most fertility clinics have a structured discussion prepared for new patients, it helps to go into that appointment prepared. In this article, we’ll go over what you should consider as you research your options on GoStork, as well as what to ask if you have further questions:
The number of successful treatments the clinic performs each year is important to understand. Fertility clinics are bound by law to report and verify data annually related to the assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles carried out in their clinics, as well as the outcomes of these cycles. This data can help you get a better idea of your average chances of success per ART cycle or transfer – though of course, ART success rates do vary from person to person.
Look out for success rates for patients with similar cases to yours, including your age and the fertility services you’ll need. This data can help you get a better idea, for example, of your chance of success per IVF cycle or embryo transfer. GoStork makes this part easier than ever before as we share each clinic’s most relevant success rates based on your personal journey ahead, taking both your age and the services you need into consideration. (As another example: if you’re doing surrogacy, you may want a clinic with a strong surrogacy program, so do check those success rates.) Only GoStork personalizes success rates in this way – providing a much more accurate picture than the more general success rates you may see published elsewhere.
It’s fairly common knowledge that IVF can be an emotional roller coaster – which is not always easy to manage on your own. This is why you need providers who really care. The majority of ART patients consider a high level of medical information and patient-centered care as important. In fact, a lack of patient-centeredness is the most cited non-medical reason for switching fertility clinics.
Patient-centered care, together with psychosocial services prove helpful in dealing with high fertility-related stress in the relationship, personal and social domains. You can learn more about this in a study published in Human Reproduction.
As support is integral during the IVF journey, a number of clinics also offer access to patient support groups. You can also get a sense of the team during your consultation process, as well as by checking ratings and reviews. And on that note…
Looking at past patient’s experiences is another great way to gain insight into the fertility clinic, its practices and, as mentioned above, how patient-centered the clinic is. Reputable IVF clinics openly feature reviews from patients – you can also read verified reviews directly on GoStork.
In order to obtain a general Obstetrics and Gynecology board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, physicians must complete four years of specialty training. For a subspecialty certification in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the physician must be board-certified and complete a fellowship program lasting 36 months, at minimum. You should opt for an IVF clinic that offers board-certified IVF specialists, with certifications in obstetrics, gynecology, reproductive endocrinology, and infertility.
In addition to doing the necessary checks on the practicing physicians, you’d want to take into consideration the experience, education, and training of other medical staff in the clinic who will also be assisting you along the way.
You want the best possible care delivered by the best in the industry – all fertility clinic profiles on GoStork include a detailed overview of doctors’ education, certifications, experience, and research, as well as the languages they speak, and if there are doctors of color on their staff.
An elective single embryo transfer (eSET) enables you to enjoy the same success rates when transferring one embryo but with a greatly reduced risk of multiples. This is due to significant advancements in clinical and embryological techniques. In a double blastocyst embryo transfer (2BET), two embryos are transferred. The risk of multiples is high as one of the embryos (or – less frequently – both) can split and produce identical twins.
Ask the fertility clinic how they handle the tests required as part of the IVF process, specifically FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone hormone level testing. Larger clinics handle these in-house, others use third parties. For the latter, check that the testing facilities they’re using are reputable.
As you plan out upcoming months, it will help you to understand things such as the overall treatment timeline, how soon you can start, how many times you’ll need to visit the clinic, etc. Going even beyond that; you can look into if pregnancy isn’t achieved, how long you’ll need to wait to try again per treatment protocols and your case.
Going through fertility treatments can be stressful. Knowing in advance that you can count on how frequently/consistently the clinic will communicate updates to you, or even that you will consistently have the same physician throughout all of your treatments, can help bring some peace of mind.
You may need to visit the clinic often during treatment so we suggest you take travel time into consideration. A fertility clinic close to home does have its benefits, especially if you’re usually busy with work or family life – it can also reduce your travel costs. Additionally, if you’re growing your family through surrogacy, you may want a clinic that’s closer to your gestational carrier. If location is not that important, you may want to consider a clinic with specific experience dealing with cases similar to yours as a higher priority over location.
You want to ask for a full breakdown of costs and not just the price tag attached to the IVF procedure. Ask the clinic to provide you with a list of all costs related to testing and medications (and feel free to ask if they accept payments in installments), as well as what can be covered by insurance. Insurance coverage varies according to your specific policy and your state, so it’s advisable to get in touch with your insurance provider for more detailed information. You may also want to keep in mind that many patients are successful at the second or third IVF cycle, rather than the first (you can check with the clinic about that average for yourself, for you and your partner if you’re doing Reciprocal IVF, or for your gestational carrier, if that’s your path to parenthood). For a more complete financial figure, factor into your calculations the cost of a hospital delivery. You can see an estimated total cost based on services for your journey for each clinic on GoStork.
We suggest you start by researching what your insurance will cover and what it won’t. Though you should reach out to your insurance provider, you can also ask your fertility doctor for advice as they may have insight as to medication coverage. Many couples who go the IVF route end up paying more than they expected out of pocket – it helps to have accurate expectations rather than surprises.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the average cost of one IVF cycle in the United States is $12,400. This only covers the egg retrieval and embryo transfer and excludes all other accompanying procedures (such as ICSI or preimplantation genetic testing) and the required fertility medications. Clarify with your insurance provider what is regarded as “voluntary” medical care, and what is not. Coverage greatly depends on the insurance company, state-specific legislation, age, reasons for infertility and your relationship status. Currently, 15 states mandate that insurers cover infertility treatments including IVF; two states (California and Texas) require that insurance companies offer coverage for infertility treatment. See the NCSL website for a complete list of state laws related to insurance coverage for infertility treatment.
You can learn more about treatment cost in our article ‘How Much Does IVF Cost’ and get tips on creative ways to finance your journey in our interview with fertility finance coach, Devon Baeza.
Deciding on a fertility clinic is both an important and highly personal process. When it comes to achieving pregnancy, finding an IVF clinic that offers quality treatment and care – delivered in a patient-centered and supportive manner – is the goal. Good luck on your journey!
At GoStork, we’re here to support you in your search for the best fertility clinic. Our Fertility Clinic Marketplace contains in-depth profiles for clinics spanning over 100 locations (and growing quickly). Register for free at gostork.com to research and match with your ideal fertility provider at any time. And – if you have additional questions about the process or your choice of fertility clinic, do reach out to us for a free, one-on-one personalized call with our concierge, Erin. You can view Erin’s calendar here and book a free call whenever it is convenient for you.