The decision to visit a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE)is a big one. Once you take the step to delve deeper into your fertility issues by researching treatments and more advanced therapy and seeking the help of a fertility specialist, then you have had to come to the point of admitting to yourself that you may be infertile and may need more help than your regular ob/gyn can offer. That first consultation can be nerve wracking and overwhelming and it is often difficult to know what questions to ask. My biggest piece of advice is to make a list and take it with you! Write down your questions and concerns and get the answers that you need. It is also helpful to have at your fingertips all the information you have about your struggles – dates of surgeries or treatments, the length of time you have been trying to conceive, dates and details about any miscarriages you may have had, any testing that you have already had that may include tests for your husband’s sperm or an HSG for you, and so on.
Our decision to use our particular clinic was based on very little research. We had two reputable clinics in our area to choose from and knew that we wanted and needed one in our city that was convenient and accessible. We went with the one that came most recommended and where we knew that people had enjoyed success. It probably would not have made a difference in our decision if I had asked questions about hours and logistics of operations but it would have been nice to know beforehand. For instance, I probably would have been less stressed and worried that I was being forgotten if I had known that after the initial consultation I would rarely see my doctor until the embryo transfer. I would have been better able to plan and prepare for IVF if I had known that the lab was closed every year for cleaning in December and that if I didn’t have my period by a certain date I would be unable to cycle until January. So, I recommend that you ask some of these basic questions:
– What are your hours of operation?
– Do you have early morning, evening or weekend hours to accommodate my work schedule or if I ovulate in a time that is not Monday through Friday 8 to 5?
– Is there a doctor always on-call (I was given instructions by my IVF nurse that were different than what I had previously been given and had a horrible time trying to find out when I was to take my very important trigger shot)?
– How do we get results – (my clinic had a voicemail system that allowed you to call in to your personal box for updates and information rather than waiting to hear from someone)?
You will also want to ask questions more specific to your situation. Be sure to ask about their success rate, chances of you conceiving with the treatment they are suggesting, and possibilities of multiples or cancelled cycles. Cost is important to and should be discussed and hopefully your doctor can outline the fees associated with the treatment as well as give you some information and hopefully can tell you the cost of medications and office visits. Be sure to discuss financing or payment plans and what your insurance may or may not cover. My clinic had a very informative IVF session where a number of people from the Finance Coordinator, to the embryologist came in to speak. Check to see if something like this is offered at your clinic as well.
The primary thing you will want to discuss with your doctor specifically is treatment, what your options are, what their protocol and timeline looks like, how many embryos do they transfer in an IVF procedure, when will they decide to try a different treatment option if the initial one is unsuccessful, if s/he will actually be performing the procedures, etc. I must admit that I did not ask all of these things, but I sure wish I did. I am very pleased with my clinic, and of course ecstatic about the successful result. Nevertheless, I can easily see that there were a lot of unknowns and quite a few of their procedures and protocols that I would have questioned or been concerned about had my IVF cycle not been successful. Be prepared, be informed – a good motto when embarking on your first visit with a Reproductive Endocrinologist.