By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
When you know you need fertility treatment, you want to make sure you’ve selected the right clinic but it is sometimes difficult to know what you should be looking for. The choice can be overwhelming, and even working out which factors ought to influence your decision-making can be tricky. Should you focus exclusively on success rates when you’re choosing between clinics, or should the cost of treatment be your prime consideration? Should you decide on a clinic based on location, on the fact that it offers a new type of treatment or that someone you know got pregnant there?
One vital factor people often overlook entirely when they’re making decisions about where to go for fertility treatment is whether the clinic feels right for them. It may sound unscientific, but in reality it’s one of the most important issues for anyone who is choosing a clinic for fertility treatment. Of course you want to choose somewhere with good success rates and good treatment that is within your budget, but all of those will be overshadowed if you feel uncertain about the clinic and the staff. You are going to be putting your faith into the medical team and it is essential that you feel confident you’ve chosen a clinic that you can be comfortable with.
Visiting dozens of clinics to try to work out which you like best might well be the ideal way to make a decision, but that is not always a practical option and you can tell more than you might expect before you ever set foot inside a clinic.
The website is likely to be your first opportunity to get an impression and can give you some insight into the ethos of the clinic and what the staff think patients might want or need to know.
Your contact with staff by phone and email will be the next step, and will help you to build a picture as to what you can expect if you choose to have treatment at the clinic.
We know that IVF can be an emotional roller coaster, and you want to be in a place where people understand that and are actively trying to help you to feel better. It’s important that there is emotional support available through counsellors or psychotherapists.
Many people dismiss this at the start, feeling certain that they won’t need this kind of help, but you want to be reassured that if you do feel vulnerable, lonely or worried, there will be someone at the clinic looking out for you and professional help available. Seeking support from a counsellor or psychotherapist isn’t a sign that you can’t cope, but shows that you are actively trying to do something positive to help yourself through fertility treatment.
One of the things people often find difficult about infertility is the sense that they have lost control over what is happening to them, and going into treatment feeling that you have no influence over the process is tough. Being well-informed and feeling involved in the decision-making processes will help you to regain some of that control, and finding a clinic which gives information in a way that you find helpful and accessible is important.
Everyone is different -and what matters to each of us during a treatment cycle may be different- but if you feel comfortable with the staff treating you and confident that they have your best interests at heart, it will make what can be a challenging time far easier to cope with.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.