What You Should Know About ART Programs
Before choosing an ART program, you'll need to ask any clinic or practice you're considering a number of questions. Here are some basics to start with.
- What are the credentials and training of the IVF staff? Are one or more physicians board-certified in reproductive endocrinology?
- Are you affiliated with an academic medical center?
- Are you a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART)? (SART is a professional group that promotes and advances the standards of assisted reproductive technologies. It has more than 370 members, which represent more than 95 percent of the nation's ART clinics.)
- Have you reported your results to SART and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? (The CDC publishes annual ART success-rate reports for fertility clinics around the country.)
- How long have you been performing IVF (GIFT, etc.)?
- How many ovarian stimulation/egg retrieval cycles have you performed in the past 12 months?
- What percentage of IVF patients who have egg retrievals go on to embryo transfer?
- What percentage of those patients become pregnant?
- How many live births have resulted from these pregnancies? How many of these were multiple births?
- What is the miscarriage rate?
Services and costs
- Do you have any limitations on the age or types of infertile couples you accept into your program?
- What fertility tests, if any, will you repeat before starting a cycle?
- Does the clinic have its own lab director? If not, how many labs does the director supervise?
- Are there certain times of year when the clinic doesn't offer ART procedures?
- What are the clinic and lab hours? How much time should I arrange to take off from work so that I'm properly rested to begin -- and complete -- the procedure?
- At what point in the cycle do you start ovulation induction?
- Which drugs do you use to suppress hormones and stimulate ovulation? Would you consider reducing the amount of drugs used?
- Does your clinic culture embryos to the blastocyst stage? (This is the final stage of the embryo's development before it hatches out of its shell and implants in the uterine wall. Only the most viable embryos reach this stage.)
- Does the clinic freeze extra embryos, which can be used for a second ART cycle if necessary?
- Do you offer ICSI (embryos produced from sperm injection) or assisted hatching (a technique used to open a small section of the embryonic wall so that it can properly implant in the uterus)?
- What is the total cost of each cycle? (This will be a range, depending on the drugs used, etc.)
- What insurance do you take? How much does insurance cover? (You'll need to verify this with your insurance company.)
- Can we pay in installments?
- Is there an intake interview? Will we meet with a doctor, nurse, therapist, and/or financial manager before treatment begins? What are the fees for these appointments?
- What types of counseling and support services are available?
- Does the clinic have a "contact system," i.e. patients who've finished their treatments, with whom we can speak?
Sources: RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association; MayoClinic.com; American Society for Reproductive Medicine; The Couple's Guide to Fertility by Gary S. Berger, MD, Marc Goldstein, MD, and Mark Fuerst (Broadway Books); The Fertility Sourcebook by M. Sara Rosenthal (Lowell House); Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others