An Essential Of Fertility Treatment Is Choosing The Right Doctor For You
A key ingredient to a positive experience with fertility treatment is a good relationship with your doctor and his/her medical team from your GP to your RE. Perhaps more than any other medical treatment, fertility treatment delves into the most intimate areas of your life. From your first enquiry about difficulty conceiving, you step into a different relationship with them than when you were in for general health checks. The focus may be on your reproductive health; however, to varying degrees you are inviting them to be part of your hopes and dreams. As time goes on, you will entrust them, from the receptionist up to the specialist, with details of your values, spiritual beliefs, the strength of your relationship, your views on and knowledge of sex, birth control, procreation, parenthood, and so much more. You will be phoning frequently for appointments, lab tests, scans, results, advice and simply to ensure that they dont forget your life has turned upside down.
Depending upon your age (+/- 35) and medical history, the question of your fertility may have been completely unexpected. Even if you are a positive sort, the threat to such a fundamental part of your being, your images of the future and your relationship may lead to thoughts such as Whats wrong with me? What did I do wrong? or Why us? Hopefully, your doctor has enough experience and sensitivity to anticipate this and will explain the next set of investigations or results in a way that turns your panic into measured concern. Actually, I might as well say it right now: you must step forward and meet the doctor more than halfway. Leave embarrassment, shame, guilt and anxiety at the door as they will do you no good and the stress they cause may actually harm your chances of becoming pregnant.
Infertility takes conception, which should be a natural function, out of your control. For many women, that loss of control is deeply uncomfortable, and even frightening. I have seven years experience of ups and downs in this area, with a combination of recurrent miscarriage and periods of infertility. Ill admit to periods of pure numbness, and then heartache, followed later by many glass-half-empty tears. My GP seemed wholly indifferent to my plight. I wasnt offered further medical investigations, treatment or counselling. Why didnt I change doctors? Somehow, while I was adventurous and outspoken in other parts of my life, I lost my voice when it was a question of my fertility. I can only conclude that, with infertility looming like a big, dark cloud above me, I felt too vulnerable to assert my needs.
My response, as an American used to private healthcare, was to ask women friends for a recommendation, then dig deep in my pockets to pay for the services of a Harley Street consultant. I realise that not everyone would be willing or able to cough up all their holiday, Christmas and rainy-day funds, however, if it matters enough for you to know more about your condition, overcome it and to become pregnant, do anything you can to find the right doctor for you, whether NHS or private. A sad truth of our fertility and physical stamina is that time will eventually run out and you dont want to have regrets that you didnt do everything you could have to create your family. (Yes, I am aware that a 66 year old woman has just had her first child, but seriously, do you want that to be you?). With todays search engines, researching each fertility doctor and clinic you are considering for success rates, good standing with their professional association and the number of times they have performed certain procedures is so easy now. If you make an informed choice and use your instincts, you will be paid back with peace of mind and trust.
So, you have reached a point where you need medical assistance to conceive. Maybe, you have a short-list of fertility specialists and clinics within a reasonable distance (Or not. I went abroad for my IVF.) Here are a few tips to help you choose a medical team and achieve and maintain a good relationship with them.
- Look everywhere (your doctor, insurance company, friends of friends, internet fertility forums, etc ) for recommendations of a good reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and clinic.
- Think about whether you and your partner respond better to male or female doctors. This may affect your ability to talk openly and honestly, endure frequent physical examinations or trust their opinions.
- Ask if you will always see your preferred doctor. If not, ask to meet the other doctors before agreeing anything. Burning with resentment at an appointment will interfere with your sense of well-being and your relationship to the staff.
- Educating yourself about your condition makes hearing your doctor that much easier and takes the edge off your anxiety. However, dont trip over the doctors toes with unqualified self-diagnosis.
- Do not be afraid to go for a second opinion. An experienced, confident doctor will understand that you have difficult decisions to make.
- Try to identify each person as friend or foe (for instance, the dragon lady who answers the phone or guards the appointments schedule; its her job) and find ways to get them in your corner. Be conscious about your demeanour; pleasant, patient and worried goes a lot further than impatient, aggressive or hysterical.
- Be bold. In the waiting room, ask other patients if they have been happy with the medical practice and if they have any tips for you.
- Whether you choose the most sought-after doctor in the field or someone out of the public eye, you should expect his full attention and compassion during your appointment, but understand that he may not have extra time for chatting and hand-holding.
- The medical and non-medical staff at the REs office may display a professional demeanour that masks real caring. They cant get emotionally involved with each couple. Be content with friendliness and patience when you have questions or a few tears.
- If the fertility clinic offers counselling or coaching for your emotional well-being, take advantage of it! This may very well provide the empathy, attention and support to balance out the doctors more scientific approach.
- If, after you have begun with one doctor, you are not comfortable with anything from his bedside manner to the distance from your home or workplace, find someone else. Dont stress out.
- The best thanks you could give your doctor is a recommendation to other couples. Those baby photos in his office, with joyful commentary from grateful parents, are better marketing material than he could buy. You may need your REs services again someday, so if you recommend him to someone else, ask them to mention it when they meet him.
- The nurses are often there at unreasonably early hours 6 or 7 days a week to allow for patients who have to get to work. A word of appreciation or a bag of croissants wont go amiss there either.
It is easy to be swept up in the flood of instructions, procedures, an artificially induced cycle, frequent trips to the pharmacy, lessons on self-injecting, an endless list of incomprehensible medical terms and rules of a fertility clinic. Its all made more difficult by the high level of emotion that accompanies infertility. It quickly strips the trying for a baby of romantic ideals. Work on feeling positive, hopeful and supported (perhaps the topic for my next blog). Central to your fertility plan and within your control, is your choice of doctors practice, including his practice manager, receptionist, nurses, and professional support for your emotional well-being. You should be absolutely convinced that you are all on the same team, wanting the same result and doing everything that can be done to achieve it. You deserve it.
This post was posted by Lisa Marsh
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