Choosing a fertility specialist
Written by Lucy Lines at Two Lines Fertility
This is a really big decision… this person might play a huge role in how your family grows over the coming months and years.
The thing with fertility is that there is still so much that is not understood. It’s not just black and white, and it most definitely is NOT just a recipe that you can follow. There are some guidelines, but the reality is that what works for one person, may not work for the next and what is ‘proven’ to help, might not be what YOU need…
There are some really basic things about fertility – you need eggs, you need sperm, they need to be able to meet and the embryo needs to be able to grow… but that’s not all… there are numerous other factors we know about, and who knows how many we don’t know about, that can impact your chances of success.
Added to all of that is the fact that different people respond to different people in different ways – we all know someone that we just don’t ‘gel’ with for one reason or another, yet some of our friends seem to really like them… sometimes it’s hard to understand…
Fertility specialists are human too – and this can happen with your fertility specialist… your friend might have recommended them, or you read all of their reviews online and they sounded Ah-mazing… but when you got into the room, you just didn’t feel it…
What you really need to think about is – What’s important to YOU… not to your neighbour’s cousin’s best friend… but to you!
If you google you will find over 60 fertility specialists in Melbourne, from 7 different clinics – Monash IVF, Melbourne IVF, City Fertility, No.1 Fertility, Genea, Adora (formerly Primary IVF) and TFC.
Each of these clinics does things slightly differently and, within each clinic, the specialists are all human and all have their own way of interacting with their patients.
For example, I have heard from a client of her experience with an unnamed fertility specialist who said:
‘you’ve paid a lot of money to see me and ask my opinion, please stop asking so many questions and just do what I tell you‘
Now for some people, that would sound like the perfect experience: I don’t want to have to think about this, I’m not educated in this area and, you’re absolutely right, I have paid a lot of money for your opinion – please tell me what to do!
For others (and for my client) they might be horrified by this and feel that as a patient, they are entitled to ask whatever questions they need to in order to understand their treatment.
Some specialists will involve you in every step of the way, some will be quick and perfunctory. Some will always run late and be in a hurry, others always on time… but only ever give you exactly your allotted time – no more no less.
Some are really into research and are excited to try new things just in case.. others prefer to stick with methods that have been tried and tested and absolutely proven to help. Some are touchy-feely and likely to offer a hug if that seems to be needed, and others might sit on the other side of a desk and appear to be more interested in their computer screen than you.
As a gynaecologist, you cannot do any fertility treatment that involves investigating or preparing sperm and/or eggs without being linked to a fertility clinic (embryologists do all of that stuff and they are employed by IVF clinics)… but lots of fertility doctors who are linked with fertility clinics also have private gynaecology practices and do lots of gynaecology work as well as their fertility work… some even do obstetrics as well!
There are pluses and minuses to each of these traits… and some of them come down to preference: do you mind if your fertility specialist’s waiting rooms are full of pregnant bellies? What if they get called out to deliver a baby? And what about all these new untested things – do you need to research them yourself in order to decide whether you want them or not? How will you know when hundreds of scientists all over the world cannot agree? And what about if your doctor suspects you might have endometriosis – wouldn’t you be best with a doctor trained in advanced laparoscopic surgery? There are so many questions!
I met with someone last year, in a social situation, who told me about her struggles with fertility. Her story was one I hear often:
“We were referred to Dr X, but we don’t really know what’s going on or what the tests that she’s doing mean.”
She even told me that she has left Dr X’s rooms in tears feeling like her questions are not answered and Dr X doesn’t understand…
Dr X could be any fertility doctor and this girl could be one of your friends. I talked to her for 10 minutes, was able to guide her to a Fertility Specialist who she is more likely to connect with and she has made an appointment already – I’m confident she will have a better time with the new doctor – we don’t all get along with everyone!
Even if the pathway to being a mum (or maybe a mum again) is a long one, or paved with what sometimes feels like broken glass, having someone walking beside you and supporting you along the way can make all the difference – not only to the journey, but to the outcome as well!
So here are 5 questions to ask yourself (and anyone advising you who to see):
1. Do I want a male or female specialist?
2. Do I want my specialist to have other areas of specialisation as well? (obstetrics for example)
3. Can I travel to see my specialist? Does it matter where they consult? (city, suburbs)
4. Would I prefer a specialist who tries new things all the time – even if they are not yet ‘proven’ by the scientific research
5. Would I prefer a ‘touchy-feely’ type? Or a more ‘straight up and to the point’ type?
Then of course there is the big one: how quickly do I want to go to IVF? Might you feel rushed if your doctor suggests you start IVF next month? Do you just want to get into it? Or investigate other options first?