Avoid these mistakes when choosing your IVF Doctor

The IVF process can be overwhelming and confusing. Choosing your IVF doctor is the most important part, yet it’s not uncommon for women to choose the first doctor they’re able to get into and then feel like they can’t change or shop for a second opinion.

While we’d like to hope we’re only going to be seeing our IVF doctor for a short time, the reality is that we might end up spending years working with this person. We’ll be relying on them to make the right individual choices for us during an incredibly emotional, intimate journey. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to choose the right doctor for you.

Last year I spoke to Lea Nicole who’d recently been through the IVF process using donor eggs. She’d been told that she had little chance of falling pregnant using her own eggs after an already long (some of it solo) journey to preserve her fertility. During this time Lea changed IVF doctors five times for a variety of reasons.

In our conversation we speak about how she got her head around using donor eggs, what you need to look for when choosing your IVF doctor and how to know when it’s time to fire your doctor.

Whether you’re looking to start fertility treatments or perhaps you’ve been questioning if your doctor is right for you, I think you’re going to enjoy this episode. I want to thank Lea for being so honest with her feelings around using donor eggs and how she got her head around her future baby not coming from her own eggs.

Listen to my conversation with Lea on Spotify here, on Apple Podcasts or read on for the summary of our chat.

IVF doctor

What to look for when choosing an IVF doctor

The clinic responds quickly.

Your first point of contact with the IVF clinic will tell you a lot about their values and how you can expect to be treated throughout the process.

So much of the IVF process relies on timing; so you’ll want their responses to be timely and individual. You shouldn’t feel like you’re bothering them! Feel free to shop around for a IVF doctor based on how you’re treated from the moment you first make contact with the clinic.

They make you feel optimistic.

Have you ever had a doctors appointment and from the first moment you walked in, things felt off. Perhaps it was just a feeling in your belly. Or maybe they made you feel bad about yourself and the questions you asked.

The doctor that’s right for you won’t make you feel like that (intentionally or otherwise). You should leave your first appointment feeling supported and heard. They should help you to feel optimistic about the next steps.

This isn’t to say that a good doctor won’t talk about the bad news. It’s IVF after all and it’s not always going to be positive. However, your IVF doctor should be able to deliver information about the reality of your situation, while helping you to remain hopeful.

Just like when Issy’s doctor told her in Episode 1 of In Circle that “he would do everything he could, but her job was to focus on staying hopeful. Because without it, there’s no point.”

Their philosophy and approach aligns with your values.

If this is your first time looking into IVF you might assume that every doctor would be working based on a set of principles set out by some sort of gold standard of reproductive technology. You’d be wrong. IVF doctors all vary in their approach. Some are overly cautious. Others throw everything at everyone.

It’s tricky to know what you don’t know before you attend your first appointment. My advice is to do some research before you arrive. Read about others’ experiences. Listen to what others have been through to get some idea of what you might be looking at.

While of course your doctor is going to have a lot more knowledge than you and will guide you in your decisions, know that you are allowed to question everything. You can ask for second opinions. AND you can shop around for your IVF doctor.

Be your own greatest advocate

Don’t feel like you have to hand over all your autonomy and do everything your doctor and clinic recommends. You are the greatest advocate for what’s right for you and your life, because you are living it.

Knowledge is a great way to be prepared, but your intuition is also a powerful. Follow it. If something doesn’t feel right. Ask more questions.

They allow you to feel heard

If you feel rushed during your appointment or like your doctor is working from a script (one they’ve repeated countless times before), they might not be the one for you.

When you’re working so closely with someone in an area of your life that is SO intimate, you want someone in your corner who is really listening. You want to know that when you’re scared or hesitant or worried, they’ll be able to address your fears and help you to go on. If they’re brushing you off or dismissing your concerns in your first appointment, I hate to say it but it’s unlikely to improve from here.

Choose a doctor who allows you to feel genuinely heard from your very first appointment.

Questions to ask your IVF doctor

If you’re currently feeling out of your depth and unsure where to even start; use the follow questions to guide you in your initial appointment to get to know your IVF doctor.

  • Does your clinic do fresh or frozen transfers? Which are more commonly done? Why is that?
  • How long is the typical IVF process from start to finish?
  • What costs are there for each treatment and what is / isn’t covered by Medicare or insurance?
  • Do you offer payment plans?
  • If I need to ask a question at any part of the process who do I call? What if it’s after hours?
  • What are your success rates / statistics?
  • Do you diagnose and treat both male and female infertility?
  • Do all treatments happen here in clinic?
  • Who performs the treatments – my IVF doctor or Nurse?
  • Who does the monitoring?
  • How often will I see my actual doctor throughout the process?
  • What types of fertility treatments do you offer?
  • How do you decide what’s best for me/ us?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes you would recommend?
  • Do you offer counselling or support during failed rounds?
  • How do you approach fertility treatments? What’s your personal philosophy and approach ?
  • What tests need to happen to start this process?

Red flags when it comes to your IVF doctor

The following are signs that this doctor might not be right for you.

  • feeling rushed or like there wasn’t time for you to ask questions
  • feeling like your questions were dismissed or minimised (if you’re worried about something, they should take the time to explain it)
  • If your doctor seems distracted or doesn’t remember small details about you. (Look I don’t have the greatest of memories either, but you can bet in a professional capacity I’m taking notes to make sure I can remember what you’ve shared about your journey so far.)
  • It feels like they’re more interested in their business than helping you create your family. (Of course, infertility is big business, however you shouldn’t feel like that’s their priority. A good IVF doctor is focused on creating families and will do everything to help you get your baby, not everything to get more money from you.)
  • Your doctor only offers one kind of treatment and doesn’t vary from this approach. (Infertility is entirely unique to each individual and requires an approach that takes this into account and doesn’t push unnecessary treatments.) If your doctor isn’t open to new ideas and progress in the field, that’s a no from me.
  • You don’t trust them and find yourself holding back information. Sometimes this is a personality clash issue and other times it’s a misalignment of values. Either way, if you don’t trust your IVF doctor; they’re not the right one for you. You should feel like you can tell your doctor anything (after all you’re going to be sharing some very private intimate details with them throughout the next few months and years)

Some final thoughts on choosing your IVF doctor

I know that changing doctors can feel like you’re starting all over again. You might feel like you’re back to square one and still not any closer to your baby. But you’re really not.

You won’t walk into your next doctor’s appointment the same woman who walked into the first. You know so much more about yourself and what you don’t want or won’t accept during this process. You’ll trust your intuition even more because you’ll know that is the only one true constant in this process. Your own inner voice of truth. Listen to her.

Where to now?

Listen to my conversation with Lea.

Connect with Lea Nicole over on her Instagram or Website.

Join me for an IVF yoga practise to support you on your journey.

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