Getting ready to take the next steps in your fertility journey.
The first appointment at a fertility clinic is likely to create mixed emotions for those people who are ready to become parents. From hope at a potential path to parenthood to frustration that they have not been able to conceive naturally so far. It can also be an intimidating experience when you don’t know what to expect. Will doctors ask difficult questions? Will there be an intimate exam? How will I feel talking about my fertility issues in a clinical setting? By understanding more about the process and what to expect from the first appointment onwards, prospective parents can reduce their anxiety levels and concentrate on what really matters, their fertility journey.
We provide the answers to your questions about your first fertility clinic visit, below.
What is the purpose of this first visit?
The purpose of your first visit to a fertility clinic is to fully understand your fertility journey to date and to start to establish a plan for next steps and treatment. If your fertility has been a challenge for some time, it may feel frustrating to have to go through your history again. But remember that giving the RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) all of the information you can is the best possible way to prepare for success down the line. A RE is a specialist fertility doctor and they are here to support you every step of the way.
What should I bring with me?
A notebook with your family history, details of your most recent cycles, and key milestones of your fertility journey so far can be incredibly helpful. It’s easy to feel a little like a rabbit in the headlights when you step into the consultation room, so having this information to hand can ensure you don’t skip over any vital details. This notepad can also come in useful for taking notes during the appointment.
In terms of practical items and information, the clinic may ask you to bring your health records, ID, insurance details, and method of payment. Details of any previous fertility treatments or tests should also be included in the information you provide.
What will the clinic be like?
Fertility clinics understand that this is an emotional and intense time for the patients they treat. This means that most clinics try their best to create a calm and relaxed environment in their waiting, consultation, and treatment areas.
Can I bring someone along for support?
Absolutely! If you’re undergoing this process with the support of a partner, they should be present at this meeting. However, if you are choosing to have a baby as a single parent, it may be useful to bring a supportive friend or relative. One note of caution, most fertility clinics do not allow children to be present as this can be difficult for other patients who are attending on the day.
Will tests will I have to undergo?
That all depends on the clinic. They are likely to book you in for blood tests and an ultrasound on the same day as your initial consultation. While male partners may be asked to provide a sperm sample. Alternatively, any necessary testing may be scheduled for a different date. If you’re unsure, you should ask your clinic to clarify. Ensuring you have a clear understanding of what will happen on the day.
When it comes to the ultrasound, you should be prepared for this to be a transvaginal ultrasound. This is where a wand-like object is inserted into the vagina to allow the doctor to closely examine the health of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix.
What questions should I ask?
This really depends on your personal situation and unique fertility challenges. Again, it’s useful to write these questions down before your visit. Some common questions include:
- How long will the diagnosis process take?
- What further tests will I need?
- What is this clinic’s success rate compared to national averages?
- What are my treatment options and what are the likely success rates for these treatment options?
- Do you offer fertility counseling?
- What are the side effects of my suggested treatment?
- How much will my treatment cost?
- What is the best way to communicate with you if I have further questions?
How long will my first visit take?
This depends on your unique circumstance and any tests that are required. You should expect to spend anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes at the clinic for your initial appointment. Your chosen clinic should be able to give you a clearer estimate of the time required.
How much will fertility treatment cost?
Again, this is extremely variable between clinics. Many publish information about the cost of treatment on their website or will be able to give this information over the phone. On average, in the US, a cycle of IVF (in vitro fertilisation) costs $12,000. Some insurance policies will cover IVF and other fertility treatments, but not all. It’s extremely important to check coverage with your provider.
What if I get upset?
This visit is likely to be an emotional one for you. That’s ok. Becoming overwhelmed or even crying during an appointment or treatment is not unusual. Highly trained doctors and nurses are there to support you through every stage of diagnosis and treatment. Many clinics also offer onsite fertility counseling services to provide therapeutic support before, during, and after fertility treatment.
Where do we go from here?
After your first visit, your fertility doctor should provide a plan for next steps. This may involve further diagnostic procedures or a suggested schedule of treatment. It’s important to remember at this stage that whether you move ahead or not is up to you. You may also want to talk to other fertility clinics before you make your final decision. Take some time to process the information you have been provided with during your initial visit and ask lots of questions. This is a huge decision for you and your family, and you need to have as much information as possible before moving forwards.
If you do decide to go ahead with the treatment, you are likely to need to meet with a representative from the clinic’s billing department who will run through all the potential costs and payment options.
On your own fertility journey and looking for a sperm donor or coparent? Visit coparents.com and connect with people on their own path to parenthood as well as those who could help you to expand your family.