How to choose your IVF Clinic

The process of choosing IVF clinics that best suit your requirements can be a daunting one. There are multiple things you need to keep in mind, such as the cost of the treatment, the success rates, the time it will take for you to get pregnant, etc. It’s important for you to understand what questions to ask while you’re choosing a fertility clinic, and why it’s important to ask them.

The best IVF Clinic will be the one that answers these questions to the best of your assessment and is transparent with their functioning.

Before you start on your journey of selecting an IVF clinic, it is best to get a thorough understanding of the treatments you’re comfortable with, the time you’re willing to spend on treatments, and your budget. Trying to conceive with the help of fertility centres can be an emotionally exhausting process, and you don’t want to be swayed into getting treatments that you don’t explicitly consent to.

Questions to ask before you choose your IVF Clinic:

The following is a list of questions that you need to ask before you choose your fertility clinic. You’ll get a better understanding of what these questions mean, and how to interpret them better.

1.Success Rate:

Simply put, the success rate of any IVF Clinic tells you what your chances of getting pregnant are, if you decide to go with said IVF Clinic. However, success rates can be conveyed in multiple ways.

  • What does this mean?
Best IVF clinics can convey their success rate to you by measuring it in multiple ways. The rate that should matter the most to you, however, is the “Live Birth Rate/Patient”, which will tell you what your chances of giving birth are at the start of your treatment. The rate that fertility centres generally report is the “Pregnancy Rate/Embryo Transfer”, which is simply the calculation of a (positive for pregnancy) blood test against the number of embryo transfers done. It doesn’t take into account the number of pregnancies that unfortunately get terminated before birth or even the number of patients whose treatments get dropped before the embryo transfer. The PR/ET rate is generally the highest rate for any Fertility Clinic, closely followed by “Pregnancy Rate/Egg Collection”. Lower still is the “Live Birth Rate/Embryo Transfer”, and the “Live Birth Rate/Egg Collection”, respectively. The lowest, but the most important rate is the LBR/Patient rate, as discussed above.

A clinic which reports a 60% success rate might just be reporting their PR/ET rate and their LBR/Patient can be as low as 20%.

  • How do you know it’s true?
The Indian Society For Assisted Reproduction, ISAR, publishes the National ART Registry of India, which reports the results of IVF Clinics in India. The good and honest IVF Clinics report their results to the Registry, as well as publish their results and studies in other scientific journals. Also ask them about the accreditations they have, like the NABH, which denotes the highest quality control clinics adhere to.

  • What is a good success rate?
While the chances of live Birth for a patient after 1 attempt depends on a lot of factors like the age of a patient, the number of embryos transferred, etc, most international registries report a live birth rate of 35-40%.

2. How Good is the Embryology Team and the IVF Lab

The qualifications and the experiences of the embryologists is also something you need to keep in mind before you choose your fertility clinic.

  • Number of embryologists
To ensure that every procedure is performed as efficiently as possible with minimal errors, there are international standards stating the qualifications of an embryologist and the number of procedures they’re allowed to run in the IVF laboratory. Most clinics follow a benchmark of 1 fully trained embryologist per 30 procedures per month.

  • Availability of equipment
The availability of speciality equipment, like incubators, is necessary for the optimal functioning of any Fertility Clinic. It is advisable for clinics to have 1 incubator per patient, as it allows for uninterrupted growth of embryos, and reduces the chance of a mix-up.

  • Documented monitoring protocols
The clinic should have written SOP [ Standard Operating Protocol ] for all critical steps and procedures. Every procedure should then be accurately documented, to ensure that the steps are followed in a specified manner, and not randomly. All steps and benchmarks for the treatments should be documented and analyzed thoroughly. A Quality Assurance and Control Protocol (QA-QC) ensures that the results are not only consistent but also allows room for improvement, based on accurate data and evidence.

3. Transparent and Ethical Practice

  Every patient has a right to know the details of the treatments they’re undergoing, every step of the process. Before you choose your IVF Clinic, you need to make sure that they follow a transparent treatment style.

  • Do you get to know what is happening?
It is the duty of the clinic to provide you with the complete and relevant information of everything that happens while you’re undergoing treatment.

  • Do you get a printed report with all the details?
It is important that the information conveyed to you isn’t only verbal, but is also documented. Having a written report or a contract ensures accountability on the part of the clinic. Your printed report should have information like the number of eggs recovered, the sperm count, the number of embryos formed, and what happened to each of the embryos.

  • Correct counselling and consent
The clinic takes upon itself the responsibility to explain to you your treatment plan, risks involved, alternative options available, etc before your treatment begins. Ask your clinic to explain the informed consent form to you before you sign it. Things like counselling and consent become even more important when donor sperm/eggs/embryos are to be used.

4. Cost of Treatment

Cost of an IVF treatment can depend on a lot of things like the type of drugs used, the type of treatment given, the quality of the laboratory where the embryos are being formed, etc.

  • Transparency
You should know whether the cost of the treatment is the final one, or are their hidden charges that could be levied on you afterwards. Ask for the list of the things that are included in the treatment and the services that will be charged extra, if any.

  • Cost-Effectiveness
Prices for the treatment reflect the kind of medication used, embryology lab standards, good quality and the optimal number of embryos, etc. You should know what you’re getting in return for your monetary investments, as well as your time and emotional engagements. A cheaper clinic won’t make much sense if their success rates are lower, or if the treatment takes more time. Always beware of clinics which give guarantees; this is medicine and even GOD does not give us guarantees ! It’s extremely important that you choose a good IVF clinic for your fertility treatment. Since it’s an important journey for you and your partner, it is our responsibility to make this journey smooth, transparent, hurdle-free and successful.
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