The moment an appointment with a fertility specialist gets booked on your calendar is the moment your mind seems to run off in a billion directions—all leading back to a state of total confusion.
Don’t for one minute blame yourself here; it’s not your fault. After all, no one truly prepares you if this moment comes your way. It’s not something taught in school nor something we have been talking about our entire lives, like going to the dentist or getting our vision checked.
And yet, it’s a serious and very common thing today. According to research, one in eight couples experience infertility. Fertility services are significant and highly needed—still, the appointment can be nerve-racking.
If you are meeting with a fertility doctor or coach, here are a list of questions that are important to come into the appointment with, and why—because no one should ever have to face family planning alone.
Do you take insurance, grants, or offer financial support?
Fertility assistance is expensive. Let’s just get that out in the open right away. And depending on the steps you will need to take, there might be surgeries, counseling sessions, medications, genetic testing, attorneys, and various additional fees involved. Before going out-of-pocket, it is essential to check to see if anything can be covered by third parties. The last thing you want is to get excited about a new baby and immediately get deflated by how much it’s going to cost to try and get you to that point.
What is the timeline for the best chances of success?
Fertility assistance does not happen quickly. There is not only Mother Nature’s schedule one is consulting with, but many outside factors that will drive how promptly and successfully appointments will be. So as not to get frustrated or stressed out, it is important to ask your doctor what the timeline for success probability looks like. What are the statistics for success in the facility? What can you do to improve those statistics? Are there changes in diet, nutrition, clothing, supplements, stress reduction, physical activity, work / life balance to consider? The more you know, the more you can better prepare mentally, physically, and financially for fertility assistance.
What are your office hours, and does your staff work around people’s daily schedules?
One of the biggest factors when we were deciding where to undergo IVF treatment was the office hours schedule. 6 a.m. appointments were very attractive to me since I worked in the city and lived in the suburbs and needed to attend bloodwork and ultrasound appointments before work. Also, the fact that Sundays were options for appointments meant a great deal to us since we were in an office Monday to Friday. You will be spending a lot of time within the fertiity treatment center, so taking out the stress of having to rearrange your entire life to make an appointment is greatly important.
What is the average number of rounds (IVF, IUI) clients need to go through before a successful pregnancy?
Yes, every patient is different, but still, there’s a level of control taken back when you know more about what to expect. Depending on egg and sperm quality, it will ease your expectations knowing that it’s okay and normal if the first try does not succeed in a positive pregnancy. Fertility is as much mental as it is physical, and it’s important not to set our expectations beyond reach upon starting.
What is your certification or background with the study of fertility?
This is a great fertility coach/consultant question, as coaching does not require certification. Has your potential coach experienced loss or fertility struggles? Does he/she know first-hand about artificial reproductive technology? Do they have respectable connections and referrals if additional advice is needed? Also, make sure you are getting the coach that can connect with you on your terms.
What are your views on diet and exercise?
The answer to infertility is not always: lose weight. For many, weight and exercise have nothing to do with why they are struggling to get pregnant. When working with your fertility doctor and/or a fertility coach, be upfront about your specific daily nutrition and exercise routines and see what he/she believes is a contributing factor or not. Diet and exercise are important to a healthy lifestyle, and certain factors can boost and improve egg quality and sperm mobility. Be specific in asking about bloodwork that should be tested and if they believe in a more holistic, naturopathic, and supplements approach versus a prescription approach for changes in the body.
What is the method of communication between patient and doctor/coach?
Some fertility clinics strictly communicate via an online portal. Some do texts. Some will take phone calls but only for emergencies after hours. Some have fees involved with the number of emergency calls. Some respond to emails. There is going to be a lot of back-and-forth conversation going on for an extended amount of time. Be upfront and clear on the methods of communication you prefer because the last thing you need is to stress out because you are never at your computer or you cannot check your phone during the day and are unable to get updates on next steps of what to take or when to come in.
Do you accept clients from anywhere in the world?
Again, I would gear this to a fertility coach/consultant. Sure, if you are looking to travel to a recommended fertility doctor or specific location, then by all means, be sure to ask these questions to him/her, as well. But fertility coaching nowadays is mainly virtual, and you will want to be upfront about where you are located to be sure your potential coach can work with you and your needs. Time zones matter, too. It’s always good to double-check where your coach is located so you’re not scheduling calls when it’s morning for you and bedtime for them.
What are your cancelation policies?
Things happen. Illness, the train is late, it’s a bad day, the list goes on and on. Sometimes we need to cancel or reschedule. Ask upfront what the office’s policies are. Every doctor and coach is different and again, the more you know upfront on how to handle an unexpected situation, the more you can mentally grasp, correct, and move forward without any surprises, arguments, frustration, or even fees.
Do you offer support?
Fertility is hard. It’s confusing. There are acronyms and special terminology that is changing by the minute. Embryo donation, embryo adoption, IVF, IUI, intended parents, donor parents, sperm donation, egg donation, TTC, TWW, embaby, BC, beta, hCG, seed cycling, genetic testing, and so on and so on. It is overwhelming and emotional. Whether it’s a reference to one-to-one or group coaching or an online chat group, a spiritual meeting, books, a hotline, or a virtual meeting with a nurse, find out what the support offered is and if it fits your wants and needs. You should never feel alone or in the dark about fertility. Don’t guess or worry—talk to people who are there specifically for this situation and for you.
Fertility doctors and fertility coaches are there with one purpose: to help you get to your goal of having a baby. Remember that no question is silly or too much for he or she to answer. The more comfortable you feel and control you can get back, the more you will trust the process, block out the noise, and remember that families are made every day, in many ways.
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