Sunday, September 30, 2007

Does the IVF clinic matter ?

One of the toughest choices an infertile couple needs to make is - Where do I do my IVF
treatment ? IVF can be extremely expensive , and since there is so much riding on this decision, it is critically important that you make it correctly ! So, how do you decide ?

Most couples will not apply their mind and simply go to the local IVF clinic - or where their GP or gynecologist sends them. The vast majority of patients are very passive. They rarely do any homework, and are happy to follow their doctor's advise. While this may be a good idea for some patients ( since it's so easy to just do what the doctor says), this is often not the best option. Smarter patients will explore their options, so that they can select the clinic which is right for them. After all, not every sportcar driver is going to be as good as Schumacher - and it's a good idea to try to maximise your chances of success !

Many will ask friends or relatives as to which the "best IVF clinic" is - and then follow this recommendation. They shop around by soliciting opinions , and while this can be effective occasionally, it is not a very reliable technique . Bad doctors may get a good reputation for spurious reasons, so this is not a method I would recommend.

Others will use the internet to research their options. This is a good idea - but you need to be fairly sophisticated in order to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to be able to use this correctly. There are lots of bad clinic with very good websites out there !

The best way is to shortlist 3 IVF clinics - and then interview them. You can do this by visiting them ( if you stay in a large city, for example, there are likely to be many clinics in the city itself , so you maybe spoiled for choice !) and asking for a guided tour. The others you can explore by emailing them or phoning them. You become a better and more discerning patient each time you get a second opinion, so this is a valuable exercise - don't take shortcuts which you might regret later !

Making the final decision is always a very personal matter. Some patients prefer large clinics with an international reputation. Others prefer those with the best rankings on the success-rate league tables. Other want a smaller clinic which offers a personal touch and more individualised care. There are many intangibles, such as the chemistry between you and your doctor, so it's hard to generalise what's going to be right for you - you will need to explore to find out what works best for you. The good news is that there are now many choices. You are no longer forced to settle for the nearest clinic, so you should take off your blinkers and be willing to do your homework.

This is a crucially important decision, and if you approach it intelligently, and invest the time and energy needed to perform your "due diligence", you will have peace of mind you did your best !
What else can you ask for ?

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