Choosing a fertility clinic is one of those big decisions you make in your life. Like buying a house, choosing your life partner or deciding on a particular career path.
Feeling happy and confident in your choice of a clinic is hugely important during your IVF treatment, and some research indicates that how you feel about your clinic, can influence your IVF success. To help make the right choice of clinic it is important to take the time to ask the right questions and do your own research. Here are the top 10 questions to ask when choosing your fertility clinic.
1. What treatments are offered at your clinic?
Not all clinics offer a full range of treatments and this may be important to you depending on the treatment process you require. For example, not all clinics offer egg freezing, ICSI or surgical sperm retrieval. This would be an important factor to know when choosing a Fertility Clinic and before you started your treatment.
2. What are the costs for private treatment?
If you are not eligible for treatment on the NHS, it is important to get a good understanding of the treatment costs as all clinics will differ slightly. Also, don’t forget to ask about any hidden/extra costs such as the costs of medication or the annual egg freezing fee.
3. Clinic success rates
In the UK, all fertility clinics are regulated by the HFEA and IVF success rates for individual clinics are published frequently. It is important however, to find out about the live birth rate as well as the IVF success rate. The IVF success rate refers to positive pregnancy tests, a percentage of which will not result in a baby or a full term pregnancy. Whereas the live birth rate refers to the percentage of babies born.
4. The HFEA Inspection rating
Part of their role as a regulator, the HFEA inspect all fertility clinics every two years. They do this against a number of important standards which, as a patient, may not be at the forefront of your mind when you’re researching clinics. These include whether the clinic stores patients’ eggs, sperm and embryos safely, whether they have the appropriate equipment and facilities to deliver safe, effective treatment and whether they have suitably qualified staff.
To help you to make an informed decision when choosing a Fertility Clinic, the HFEA publishes an inspection rating which indicates how well the clinic is performing in all areas. A five-star rating clearly marks the clinic out as providing a high-quality service in all the areas identified.
5. Patient Rating
It can be hard to get a sense of what it would really be like to be treated at a particular clinic. Everything from how caring the staff is, how much information you are given or how easy it is to communicate with your clinic can contribute to a good or bad experience.
Getting a recommendation from other couples is a good place to start. However, to help you when choosing a Fertility Clinic, you can get further information by looking at the patient ratings on the HFEA website.
You may initially want to choose the best clinic that you can find but this may be 100’s of miles from where you live. Consider the frequency in which you would need to travel to your clinic, how easy this might be at short notice and whether you can manage long travel times around work and your other commitments.
7. Emotional support
By law, clinics are required to offer counselling support. However, this provision differs among clinics and may consist of just one counselling session. You may want to consider opting for independent support, such as engaging with a Fertility Coach to support you before you start IVF, during the process and afterwards.
8. Clinic waiting times
If you are choosing an NHS clinic, it is worth asking about their waiting times as this may differ compared to other areas. If you are needing to opt for egg or sperm donor, it would be useful to inquire as to the waiting times for these type of treatments.
9. Is the clinic able to offer evening appointments?
Arranging your appointments around your work schedule can be a bit of a headache and therefore if your clinic is able to offer flexible appointments this may take a bit of the stress out of managing your diary.
10. Does the clinic have a support group you can join?
Getting the right support during your IVF experience is really important. Some clinics offer support via informal meetings and you may find that this extra support and the option to receive information/ask questions is just what you need.