For many couples struggling with infertily, In vitro fertilization (IVF) offers a ray of hope in their journey to parenthood. IVF has come a long way since its inception in the 1980's and as of today most states have several IVF programs to choose from. Since you have options, it is crucial to make an informed decision that meets your needs and expectations. What key factors should you consider when selecting the right program for you and your partner. Below we highlight important considerations to keep in mind.
Success rates- One of the critical factors when you choose an IVF program is its success rates. To be honest most programs have similar pregnancy rates. The minor difference of up to 10% can be attributed to the programs patient load. While these rates typically indicate the ability for you to get pregnant with IVF at that particular program it's not all about the numbers. It is essential that you look beyond the numbers - do the total number of cycles add up to the number of cycles included in the reporting the rates. Some centers put poor quality candidates into research projects to avoid reporting their low chance of success. Does the program encourage patients to do multiple cycles upfront? The program can then select the best embryo out of 3 cycles instead of 1 cycle giving them better success. Does the program freeze poorer quality embryos? Some programs do not freeze BB quality embryos as the success is lower. While an AA embryo may give you an 80% pregnancy rate when transferred and a BB may give you a 50% pregnancy rate some programs don't freeze the BB embryos as it effects their success.
Experienced team- Is the provider a MD or a DO or a mid-level? Did the provider do a 3 year fellowship training accrediated by the American Society of Reprodcutive Medicine? Some providers have not done a fertility fellowship or have only completed a short course program ( 1 year or less) often seen with a DO training. Another important factor is how often do you see the provider? Some large programs you only see the physician on the day of your retrieval.
Personalized treatment plans- Do you see the same provider or do you see a new provider each visit? Who does the IVF calendar the physician or nurse? Look for a program that tailors your approach with a personalized plan made by your physician.
Cost transparency- Some programs add on costs after treatment has started. Understanding your financial obligations upfront so you can budget accordingly is important. Are there self pay packages if you do not have coverage? Are there fee schedules you can see before you choose where to go for treatment? Some programs add $2500 fees onto an insurance price for coordination fees. I know of one patient paying over $7,000 in coordination fees in addition to her copays and deductibles when billing a retrieval and transfer.
Telehealth options - does the program offer convenient hours and telehealth options to save time on travel and time off work.
Location- consider the location as frequent visits may be necessary with IVF. Often there are over 10 visits in one month to the fertility center.
Choosing the right program is a important decision, you need to feel comfortable with the physician and the nursing staff taking care of you. Be careful to evaluate success rates, physician training, services offered and cost transparency. Remember that infertility treatment can be emotionally challenging so select a program that provides the medical expertise and the compassionate care critical for a positive experience.