You have control over your choice in a fertility doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or choose a different doctor. This is someone that will be accompanying you on your journey.
One of the many lessons that surprises people when finding a doctor, be it reproductive endocrinologist or otherwise, is YOU have way more insight and control over who you are treated by than you may think. Particularly in the fertility world, people can get hung up on SART data when in truth, success rates can be somewhat manipulated (for lack of a better word). Not only can it be affected by how the numbers are reported, but some clinics won’t cycle patients if they feel it will hurt their statistics (i.e. if a female patient has a low AMH, a clinic may not treat her as she’d “bring down” their success rates).
In general, when it comes to getting pregnant, the rule of thumb is if you’re under the age of 35 years and have been trying to conceive for over a year, or if you’re 35 years old or older and have been trying to conceive for over six months, you should consult with a fertility doctor.
Here’s what you need to consider as you start looking for doctors. If you have insurance, find out who takes your specific coverage. You can also ask doctors you trust, such as your OB/GYN or primary care physician, for a recommendation. Another excellent source is if you know any friends or family members who have gone through fertility treatments, you can reach out and ask them if there is someone they’d recommend.
Two other factors that should be high up on your list when identifying doctors is clinic location (should you cycle with a doctor, you will need to be monitored so would it be easier for you to see someone closer to home or work?), and if you’ve been diagnosed with a specific condition (PCOS, Endometriosis or Recurrent Pregnancy Loss), which doctors specialize in those conditions.
Some other questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I prefer a male or female doctor?
- Am I interested in the mind/body connection? If so, which clinics/doctors have the same philosophy?
- Is bedside manner important to me?
If you either have insurance or if you’re able to afford it, I’d recommend scheduling two (or even three) initial consultations to meet and compare doctors. Some clinics also offer either free seminars or free consultations as a chance to get to know them better. This would give you an opportunity to be with them one on one, ask any questions on your fertility goals, their style, what course of action they would recommend, etc.
After meeting a few reproductive endocrinologists and considering all the above factors, what does your gut tell you? If you feel a connection with a doctor or an enthusiasm about a protocol a doctor recommends, that’s a strong indicator that you’ve found your doctor! More than anything, it’s how you feel about that doctor that is the best factor to go by.
A final important note–not for any reason, even after you have started fertility treatment with a doctor, should you ever feel beholden to them or like you can’t get a second opinion. Whether you have an excellent relationship with your fertility doctor or not, getting a second opinion is very commonplace, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re “cheating” on your doctor. Expanding your family is important, and if you wanted to just get a fresh set of eyes on your history to see if there’s any additional insight to be gained, it’s worth it.
Remember, we can’t control if or how we’ll get pregnant, but we can control who we pick as a doctor to help get us one step closer to parenthood!