How to Evaluate an IVF Program with 5 Important Questions
Five of the Most Important Questions to Ask
1) Ask to see the program’s official CDC pregnancy statistics.
The Wyden Bill requires that all IVF programs report their results to the CDC yearly. While this is a law, it is not enforced by any significant penalty. Treatment centers that do not report their data know they cannot be audited. These clinics may be reporting erroneous data. They may be transferring excessive numbers of embryos to achieve pregnancy. Transferring excessive numbers of embryos leads to high rates of multiples, resulting in potentially serious morbidity and mortality to the babies and Mom. Often programs have good fresh IVF transfer rates, but poor results with cryopreserved embryos. Pregnancies from cryopreserved embryos can add a tremendous amount to a couple’s cumulative chance of having a baby. Again, ask to see official CDC take home cryo IVF pregnancy rates.
2) Ask if the clinic has regular office hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Infertility is time specific. If the clinic is not operating seven days a week, care, i.e. inseminations, IVF retrievals and transfers are often being compromised.
3) Ask if the embryology lab is headed up by an embryologist certified as a highly complex lab director (HCLD).
This certification is given to embryologists who have obtained an advanced degree of training and equipment knowledge and have passed a rigorous certification exam. Ask if the center has a secured facility for storage of your cryopreserved sperm, eggs, or embryos. Ask how often liquid nitrogen tanks are filled and checked. There should be documentation of these checks. Ask if the program has a back up alarm system.
4) Ask about cost for IVF.
Typically IVF costs range anywhere from $10,000 to $18,000 inclusive of medications. Ask if there are additional charges for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), typical cost $500 to $1000. For assisted hatching, typically $500 to $1500, and whether cryopreservation, typically $500 to $1500, is included in the cost estimate. Costs to do a subsequent cryo IVF transfer cycle range from $1000 to $3000.
5) Ask if the physicians at the clinic are board certified or board eligible in Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility.
Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility subspecialists are OB/GYNs who have gone on to do two or three more years of subspecialty training in Reproductive Medicine. To maintain board certification subspecialists must continue to keep up with important medical advances and take a re-certification exam yearly.
Answers to these five questions will go a long way in directing you to one of the better IVF programs in your area. Do your homework – chances are your referring physician has no knowledge of these five issues.