How to Choose an IVF Clinic
By Francis Polansky, M.D.
You just found out that you need “in-vitro” to conceive. You might feel upset, your head is spinning with implications of what it all means, and you start wondering about the treatment cost, whether it will be successful, and where to go for your IVF treatment.
Selecting the “best” IVF clinic can be a perplexing experience. You search online only to find an overabundance of data along with confusing and inconsistent pieces of information. You find half a dozen infertility clinics in your area and have really no idea which one to choose.
Let me let you in on a little known secret: It all comes down to the performance of the clinic’s embryology laboratory which, in turn, hinges on the experience and personality of the lab director. The physicians do not influence the probability of your success nearly as much as the excellence, or the lack of it, of the IVF laboratory.
Here lies the crux: There is no reliable information available to compare performance of embryology laboratories of various IVF clinics. I have been a part of the infertility medical field for almost 30 years and, with as much insight as I should have, I know precious little about how well embryology laboratories in my area are doing.
One possible source of knowledge is the compilation of treatment outcomes of US fertility clinics collected by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). Unfortunately, clinics self-report their data to SART, and unscrupulous clinics have been found to inflate their reports of successful outcomes. SART states that clinic-specific outcomes should not be the sole resource used by the public to select an IVF center.
To complicate the matter further, some IVF centers have waiting periods ranging from weeks if not months for your initial consultation.
Since it may really be impossible to “figure out” which IVF clinic to choose, you may decide to use your intuition to guide you: (1) Go online and review the websites of all infertility centers offering the treatment you were told you need. There will be some websites, say three or four, that you will get better “vibes” about than the rest. (2) Call them all, have some questions ready, and see what kind of feeling you get from over-the-phone communication. Do not ask for an appointment yet. (3) “Sleep” on the impressions you have gained, and the next day, call two of them back and ask for an initial appointment. (4) Go to the first appointment, and if you “fall in love” with the place, you have found your clinic. Call the other one to cancel your appointment. Otherwise, keep your options open, have your initial consultation at the second clinic as well and decide between the two.
This might seem like a lot of effort on your part, but it should pay off not only in your over all treatment experience but, hopefully, also in increasing your probability of a successful outcome.