Imagine your soulmate. Your perfect person. Perhaps they’re tall and fit with brown eyes… or perhaps they’re 5’3’’ and wearing scrubs. Oh, did I say ‘soulmate’? I meant your other soulmate… your fertility doctor!
On the surface, finding a fertility doctor that’s a perfect match for you may not seem like it takes as much emotional emphasis as finding, “the one”, and for some, it doesn’t. However, others genuinely want to feel their reproductive endocrinologist is working with them in a collaborative partnership. It’s really a matter of patient preference. While you might not care who your doctor is, and how warm and fuzzy your relationship with them might be, the fertility treatment can feel a little easier to digest when you and your doctor are on the same page.
Either way, it’s important YOU know what kind of doctor you want, what’s important to you and how to communicate your personal needs to your “fertility doctor soulmate”.
How to Find “The (Fertility) One”
First, let’s start with the obvious factors that might influence your choice of fertility doctor. Do they take insurance? How far are they from your job? Or your home? Would you prefer your clinic to be closer to one or the other? Also be sure to consider what times you will be going for monitoring; some parents prefer clinics are closer to their jobs so they can go on their lunch hour, others prefer a clinic that’s close to their home to make it easier for their spouse to attend visits. It’s up to you.
You’ll also want to determine you have a preference for seeing a male or female fertility doctor. Some women truly don’t care, but others feel more comfortable with a female.
If you have a infertility-related diagnosis affecting your reproductive system, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis or Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, you’ll also want to keep this in mind when finding your RE. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to find a fertility doctor that specializes in that specific condition.
Who can help?
If you do have insurance that covers a fertility consultation, your insurance company will have a directory on it’s website where you can search what doctors are in your network. You should be able to search, “Reproductive Endocrinologist” or “Infertility” to find a list of doctors to choose from that accept your insurance.
You can also ask your Primary Care Physician or your OB/GYN if they have any fertility doctors they know of that they would recommend.
If you feel comfortable enough, you can even ask friends and family; a trusted source who has had a positive first-hand experience with a fertility doctor can be incredibly insightful.
Advocating for Yourself
Before you meet your new fertility doctor, you should contact your insurance to find out exactly what services are and/or aren’t covered. This way, you’ll know ahead of time what you may have to pay out-of-pocket for. Also ask them if you have any out-of-network benefits as you may at least have the opportunity to be reimbursed for a portion of anything you spend on fertility treatment.
Making a list of questions before you see the fertility doctor can also be exceptionally helpful. By doing so, you make certain you don’t forget anything you want to ask, and it’s a good opportunity to see how your doctor responds.
If they are patient enough to answer each question thoughtfully, you’ll know this is someone who might be a solid match for you. If they seem annoyed, rushed or impatient with all of the questions, you’ll probably be grateful to find this out on the first visit while there is still time to switch physicians.
If you know you have a specific condition, you should do some homework ahead of time and maybe even prepare some questions for your first visit. For example:
- If you have endometriosis, perhaps research laparoscopy and see if that might be an option you’d like to explore.
- If you’ve gone through several failed IVF cycles at a different clinic or have been told you may have an implantation issue, would you be a candidate for endometrial receptivity testing?
- If you’ve had several miscarriages, would the doctor recommend PGT-A?
Again, these are opportunities to see how well this doctor handles your input and will work with you on helping you achieve your family building goals.
As you process all of this, some additional questions you may want to ask yourself are:
If you’re interested in the mind/body connection (meaning acupuncture, taking herbs, yoga, etc.), does the doctor and/or clinic have the same philosophy?
- Is a doctor’s bedside manner important to you?
- Do you want a more conservative, University-based practice?
- Do you want a clinic that’s more “out of the box” in it’s approach?
- What are other factors that matter to you?
And lastly, always remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Fertility issues are personal and important, and unlike when you marry someone, you can actually play the field. If you have a consultation with one doctor and you don’t feel like it’s a “match”, you can see other doctors. You have choices and you should feel free to explore them until you find a doctor that’s right for you!