What should we look for when choosing a clinic pregnancy?
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) website (see Resources, pages 184-185) gives detailed advice and information, including how to choose a fertility clinic, how to understand the clinics' success rates, and which questions you should ask when you visit a clinic. Here are a few of my own suggestions as to what to look out for when choosing a fertility clinic.
If you are aged 40+, choose a clinic that has proven experience and a good success rate in this age category.
Age is an important factor, as success rates for assisted conception decline as you get older. Ask any clinic you visit what their success rate has been in your age category during the last two years.
Depending on your health history, bear in mind that some clinics have exclusion policies (which may relate to age, FSH levels, marital status, sexuality, and HIV and hepatitis C infection). Ask them about this before making an appointment to see them.
Ask what treatments and services are offered.
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The most common complaint I get about some clinics is that they offer poor patient care and support, and yet emotional support and preparation for treatment is vital. However, many clinics do have counsellors on site.
In my experience, clinics that tailor-make the treatment to each couple rather than following a standard one-size-fits-all‚ protocol appear to have a better success rate. Enquire what the situation is with any prospective clinic.
Don't let yourself be rushed or intimidated during a consultation, and make sure you come away with a clear understanding of what has been said.
Don't be frightened of asking awkward questions, and ask again if you don't understand the answers.
Consider paying for an initial consultation at more than one clinic to ensure you find one you are comfortable with.
If you are on your third or fourth treatment, ask your consultant what aspect of your care he or she plans to change for any subsequent cycles.
After any failed cycle, make sure you can have a follow-up consultation to discuss all aspects of your treatment.