What am I Allowed to Ask? – A Guide to Your Fertility Consultation

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You can ask anything and everything at your fertility consultation!!! This is your journey and this is a time to feel empowered. After all, you are driving this bus. After you’ve selected the fertility clinic you would like to use, and you’ve scheduled your consultation, you’ll probably be feeling a mixture of emotions. Excitement is a common feeling, as well as anxiousness and nervousness. In any case, the consultation appointment is a critical time, because this is your first face-to-face time with your doctor, and it may be one of the only times you see your doctor until you have testing and procedures done. Here’s a guide in how to make this consultation appointment count…

QUESTIONS TO ASK

  1. What diagnostic testing is available? – some women may know that they will have trouble getting pregnant through a diagnosis of endometriosis from their gynecologist. However, many women are not aware of the root of their fertility struggles. Your doctor will likely suggest initial fertility testing which may include blood work to test hormone levels, an ultrasound of your ovaries, a dye-contrast x-ray to ensure the fallopian tubes are not blocked, and possibly surgical procedures to identify endometriosis or scarring. Contact your insurance provider to find out if any of these tests are covered by insurance prior to having them done.
  2. Is there something I could be doing to improve my chances of a successful pregnancy? – sometimes making a lifestyle adjustment can be the key to achieving pregnancy. Nicotine, alcohol, stress, and being underweight/overweight may be a factor that plays a role in your fertility struggles. Talk to your doctor about adjustments that may help. (disclaimer: these are not always related to infertility and it’s important for you to talk to your doctor before making changes)
  3. What type of treatment do I need? – This is different for everyone. Depending upon what your doctor finds through testing. You may only need minor medical intervention to stimulate ovulation, while others may need more guided intervention, up to and including IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), as well as sperm or egg donation. Be sure you understand why your doctor is selecting a specific treatment plan for you, as well as the success rates associated with it.
  4. What are my chances for success, given my diagnosis and age? – It’s important to understand that the success rate for you has a direct correlation to your diagnosis, age and how your body responds to treatment. Ask your doctor to give you as much information as possible regarding this question. Often times, I would put it into perspective and ask “if I were your daughter, what would you suggest?”
  5. What are the costs associated with treatment? – Depending on your diagnosis, you may only be looking at expenses of a few hundred dollars for medication. However, if your treatment plan includes IVF, you will be looking at costs upwards of of $15,000-$30,000 (depending on your medications and procedures).
  6. Does insurance cover any of the costs associated with my treatment plan? – You will have to contact your insurance company independently, as this is not something your reproductive facility will have the answer to. Some insurance companies do offer fertility treatment coverage, which will substantially help reduce the overall cost. Other insurance companies will cover blood work, and office visits, while other insurances don’t cover any part of treatments.
  7. Is there financial assistance for treatment? – Many reproductive practices will offer some sort of financial aid. They may have their own financial assistance they can offer, or they may refer you to a lender that specializes in this type of financial assistance. Payment plans can be put in place to make things more affordable as you proceed through treatment. Often times you will be required to meet with the reproductive facilities financial aid administrator. During this meeting you will let them know if you need financial assistance or if you plan to pay in cash or utilize a credit card.
  8. How available will you and your staff be to me as I proceed through treatment? – This will be dependent on the reproductive facility you have selected, although you will probably have a hand full of encounters with your doctor, while most of your correspondence will be done with the highly trained nursing staff. This is an important question to ask to ensure you have the proper level of communication throughout treatment. This includes knowing if you will have a 24 hour hotline, should you have questions related to your medication, as well as if you have complications or questions after procedures, etc. You’ll also want to know how soon a nurse or staff member will get back to you if you email/call and leave a message.
  9. Any additional questions you may have – Write them down as you approach your consultation appointment. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, so ask away and get the most out of your time!

PREPARATION

  1. Fill our your new patient forms prior to your first appointment. This will help you make the most out of the time you have scheduled with the doctor, and you won’t be cutting into that vital time filling out paperwork.
  2. Bring medical records with you. This could be information from your OBGYN related to their findings in your reproductive system, or records from previous reproductive physicians you have seen. Any and all information will be helpful to the doctors and staff. Please keep in mind that if you switch doctors, you will most likely have to repeat procedures that have already been done. Although, this is frustrating and sometimes costly, it is necessary to ensure that the reproductive physician you have selected can make his/her own determination of the results of testing.
  3. A notebook to take notes. A notebook is helpful to keep all your questions in, and you can jot them down as you think of them. It’s also helpful to document the answers to those questions in the same notebook so you can reference them later.
  4. Stay Organized. You will be overloaded with information, you’ll receive packets, forms, documents, and more. Go purchase a notebook and a folder or folio, from your favorite stationary store and keep all of your documents together in one location. You will want to refer to these items throughout your journey.
  5. Document your attempts at getting pregnant. Your reproductive physician will want to know your history related to conception. You will need to be candid about miscarriage, family history of infertility, previous pregnancies, length of time trying to conceive, etc. Be honest and open with your doctor about these details.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • During your appointment your reproductive physician will often times explain the process of natural conception, meaning how the sperm meets the egg in a pregnancy without interference
  • You will review your medical history as well as the background of your trying to conceive journey
  • Your doctor may describe some of the testing they would like you to proceed with so they can have a starting place
    • For Women – blood work for hormone testing, ultrasound of ovaries
    • For Men – semen analysis, blood work

The decision to begin fertility treatments is a very powerful one, and it’s so important to remember that this is YOUR journey. You are an equal partner with the medical staff in choosing what is right for you and your family, as well as what you are willing and not willing to do. You have every right to be informed, and ask as many questions as you need to. Being prepared will only help facilitate your feeling of empowerment.

 

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