Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Evaluating Fertility Clinics

If you are having trouble becoming pregnant and you nor your partner can figure out why, it may be time to visit a fertility clinic. These specialized medical centers can provide some of the most advanced treatments and procedures in order to bring a healthy baby to couple that had once thought their chances of conceiving were non-existent. The most tumultuous part about picking a fertility clinic is choosing the one that will suit you best.

Just like any other industry, the fertility clinic industry is a competitive one and clinics are vying for your business all the time. Most clinics attempt to get you through the door with “guaranteed success rates” and reduced prices on certain treatments, and while these deals may be great, there is more to be aware of and concerned with than just money and prices. Before choosing a clinic, a couple should do a little bit of research to see just how good a certain fertility clinic is and how they stack up against other clinics in the area, the state, and in the country or world.

Do the Success Rates Speak the Truth?

In the previous section we briefly touched on how most clinics attempt to lure you into choosing them by claiming high success rates on infertility treatments such as IUI or IVF. Some clinics claim success rates as high as and exceeding 90%, but just because they printed those figures on a billboard or flyer does not make them true.

Before blindly picking a clinic simply because they stated that their success rates were higher than any other clinics, check their facts and make sure that their advertisement was being truthful. Each and every clinic reports information to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) each year in the United States, and this is just one of the places where you can begin to do your fact checking. In the process of evaluating a specific fertility clinic, you may also happen across other bits of information that can make your decision regarding the clinic easier.

What is Considered a “Success”? 

Let’s say that you did your fact checking, and in the process found out that your fertility clinic was actually being quite truthful in their public advertisements. This is obviously a good sign, but one good sign does not mean your journey is over. In fact, finding out that your clinic has high success rates means that your evaluation has just begun.

To begin to critically analyze success rates, one must first define what a success is. If a couple is seeking 1 healthy child and ends up with 6 babies being born at once, is that a success? Strictly speaking, it is, because at the end of the day the goal of that fertility treatment was to yield you a child and it did exactly that (only it gave you 5 extras in the process). In reality though, not many people plan to have or are even able to take care of 6 children effectively. This is the problem that has plagued fertility clinics all over the world for many years now. All too often a simple fertility treatment goes slightly awry and even though it seemed to have gone off without a hitch, the doctor may bring you the news that you may need a bigger car.

To find out how many instances of multiple births happen at a particular clinic, the CDC would be a good place to start your search, but it may not give you all the answers that you are seeking. To really find out about the fertility clinic in question, you are going to have to go to the internet and other sources to find out how often they produce multiple births.

Are the Numbers Skewed?

If you know anything about fertility, you probably know that as you age your body becomes less and less fertile. Additionally, aging women suffer a fertility loss that is exponentially more dramatic for them than it is for males of the same age. In fact, men do not really have to worry about the potency of their sperm until after the age of 40 and in some cases 45.

The reason the age of successful pregnancies matters is because if a fertility clinic is sporting an average success rate of 85%, but all of the patients are under the age of 25, the 85% success rate would be meaningless to a 32 year old woman.

Some clinics specifically market to younger women solely to pad their numbers and make their clinics look good. You cannot really fault them for taking this approach (because it is a great business model), but if a clinic is marketing to 20-something year olds it will not be of any use to a woman who has aged beyond 35. So the next time you read that a certain clinic has an outrageously high rate of success with their treatments, look a bit deeper into those numbers.

Tying it All Together

Understandably, the above sections are a lot of information to take in at once, but all the information provided could mean the difference between you having a single healthy baby and you becoming the next Octomom. Failing to evaluate a prospective clinic before choosing to go ahead with treatment from it is a pitfall that many unwary couples get trapped in.

The best way to begin your evaluation is to compile a list of all your possible fertility clinic selections, and then rank them from most feasible to least feasible (feasible can mean price, distance, and even staff). Once you have your list of clinics then it becomes time to check out information on the CDC’s website as well as other information from various other sources that are built to help people just like you. With a little bit of effort and common sense you will be on your way to facilitating your dream of having a healthy baby boy or girl.