How to Choose a Fertility Clinic

Choosing a fertility clinic is the first step in actualizing your dream of having a baby; it is the first step in a very dynamic, often lengthy, and certainly life-changing process. As your primary resource, your guide, and your partner for the duration of your family-building journey, your fertility clinic should be selected with intention and discernment. 

Not only do you want to ensure a clinic that will give you the level of attention and quality of care you deserve, but you want to select one whose particular set of treatments, services, and specialties align with your unique family-building needs. 

The range of fertility needs is a wide one, and the range of needs met by different fertility clinics is too. That’s why it’s important to consider both the physicians’ competence and the clinic’s particular set of treatments, services, and resources. Here are 7 factors to guide your search for the perfect fertility clinic match.  

1. Physician Competence 

Before you begin the search for your individualized match, filter through your options to ensure experience, expertise, and reputability. Here are some questions to ask: 

  • Are all of the physicians board-certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology?
    • This is a simple way to set a baseline of training and experience for the physicians of your chosen clinic.  
  • Does the clinic belong to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART)?
    • SART members are required to meet high-level treatment standards, follow ethical guidelines, maintain lab certifications and inspections, and provide data reports. 
  • What are the clinic’s success rates?
    • Widely trusted and comprehensible for non-medical minds, SART’s annually published reports offer an accessible and credible comparison of IVF success rates and other clinic success rates. 

2. Treatment Options

Of course, the clinic you choose must offer treatment options that fit your unique situation as an intended parent. Here are some treatments to look for:

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Gestational Carrier Cycles, and Egg Donation 

These are some of the most effective and widely applied treatments for intended parents in various situations, including same-sex couples, transgender persons, single parents, and those facing both female factor, male factor, and unexplained infertility. 

In-House Egg Donor Program

If you’re seeking egg donation, an in-house donor program can make the world of difference in terms of ease and affordability. This can mean egg donor screening, assistance choosing a donor, and ovum donation all in one place—easing stress and reducing middle-man costs.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) 

This method is especially effective for treating male factor infertility, as well as unexplained infertility and that caused by mild/moderate endometriosis.

Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation (COH)

Used to restore ovulatory function, this treatment is common in treating female factor infertility and is also used alongside IUI to increase success rates. 

Egg, Sperm, and Embryo Freezing 

Freezing treatments are used to preserve fertility prior to the exposure of gonadotoxic agents such as chemotherapy or radiation, prior to surgical removal of gonads, prior to the onset of hormonal treatments used for gender transitioning, or at a young age prior to age-related fertility decline.

Endometrial Receptivity Assay (ERA)

This fertility testing method is used to determine the best timing for embryo transfer and to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. 

Advanced Reproductive Surgery 

Hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, myomectomy, and tubal reanastomosis are some of the surgical options for addressing uterine conditions and increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. 

3. Patient Resources & Support Services

Seeking fertility treatment often involves travel—whether for bypassing legal limitations or achieving the best possible care. Between these complications and the tough decisions involved in any treatment, navigating your family-building journey can be challenging on your own. Here are some questions for determining a clinic’s supportive capacity:

  • Do they offer travel assistance, such as navigational guidance and discounted hotel rates? 
  • Do they accommodate long-distance patient needs with virtual physician consultations?
  • Do they have patient coordinators who can help patients find and secure surrogates, sperm banks, or legal aid?
  • Do they facilitate a trusted network of related medical professionals, such as psychologists, family doctors, or acupuncturists? 

4. Private Equity vs. Physician-Owned Structure

A clinic’s management structure can say a lot about its ability to provide quality care, so asking if a clinic is a private-equity or physician-owned practice can be a helpful determinant. 

Within private-equity structures, physicians are beholden to a board of investors which means that their flexibility in care decisions is limited and often driven by short-term profits, rather than long-term care. 

Physician-owned clinics have the capacity to genuinely be all about the patient, rather than the private investors; and their physicians, with their reputation on the line, have the motivation to go the extra mile. 

5. Embryology Lab 

At the heart of high success rates are the laboratory facilities and technicians. This is where so many of the fertility processes actually take place, and state-of-the-art technologies and techniques are vital. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do they have a dedicated team of experienced embryologists on-site?
  • Do they use modern instruments, air filtration systems, microscopes, incubators, airflow hoods, and room filters to ensure the highest embryo quality outcomes?
  • Do they offer pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) on the embryos to help prevent transmission of genetic disorders?

6. Clinic & Staff Experience

When you choose a fertility clinic, you aren’t just choosing your doctor, but you’re choosing your complete care team. The process of building a family can be lengthy, stressful, and emotional; and it’s important that your clinic’s staff be encouraging, supportive, and invested in your care. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does the clinic’s staff have a reputation for dedicated and high-quality care? 
  • Do they respond to phone calls and communicate efficiently?
  • Are they willing to answer questions?
  • Do they demonstrate excitement to work with LGBTQ families?  

7. Affordability & Insurance

Fertility treatments are expensive, and financial limitations can very easily become the barrier to a family’s goal of having a baby. The best clinics take measures to ensure access to reproductive care. A commitment to affordability not only alleviates stress for those with financial limitations, but it demonstrates the clinic’s commitment to building families (rather than just making money). Here are some potential considerations:

  • Are they transparent about their treatment costs?
  • Do they provide financial assistance to lower-income patients?
  • Do they accept insurance or provide financing options?
  • Do they offer guarantee packages? 

Why Idaho Center for Reproductive Medicine?

Established in 1998, ICRM is a full-service, physician-owned fertility clinic, offering state-of-the-art fertility treatments to patients locally, nationally, and globally. We have one of the highest percentages of IVF cycles with gestational carriers among U.S. clinics, and we offer a renowned in-house egg-donor program. Our board-certified physicians, embryologists, and coordinating staff are dedicated to helping every family have a baby in a setting filled with compassion, dignity, and respect; and with a long-cultivated community network, we ensure that every one of our patients finds the comprehensive support they need in their family-building journey. 

As you begin and continue on your path to parenthood, it’s important that you feel heard and supported. Please get in touch with us to address any questions or concerns you may have, or to discuss your options for having a baby. 

Listen To Dr. Slater’s
Most Recent Podcast!

In the latest episode of the SART Fertility Experts podcast, Dr. Slater and Betsy Campbell from RESOLVE discuss current barriers to reproductive medicine and how advocacy efforts are expanding access to care.