Choosing the right fertility clinic can make the difference to succeeding in fertility treatment and having a healthy baby. Let’s take a quick tour of a fertility clinic to understand their function and see how we can measure a clinic’s success rates.
The soul of the IVF lab is the CO2 incubator. This is where fertilization is triggered and embryos are carefully grown under conditions that are continuously controlled and monitored to resemble a female body’s environment.
An IVF lab is peppered with micro-viewing equipment. Microscopes with heated platform mounts are used to inspect embryos, sperm and eggs. Micromanipulators are high magnification toolsets that allow clinical specialists and doctors to interact with the eggs at a cellular level using micropipettes and microinjectors. Micromanipulators are where ICSI is performed. They are also used for embryo biopsy for embryonic study.
You’ll find stockpiles of IVF culture medium which forms a nourishing fluid environment around an embryo during artificial fertilization. Most IVF clinics use ready-made medium, which is quality controlled and extensively clinic tested.
An abundance of liquid nitrogen can also be found. This is fodder for the computer-controlled cryopreservation unit, which is used to freeze and store eggs, sperm and embryos usually at a temperature of -196 deg Celsius.
Why choosing the right clinics is important
The most demotivating and frustrating problems in infertility treatment is IVF failure or implantation failure. Infertile patients who have undergone many IVF cycles and produced perfectly healthy embryos but the embryos have continuously failed to implant for unexplained reasons.
Fertility clinics outside of regulatory countries like the US and the UK often combat this problem by increasing the recommended number of embryos for implantation. This could lead to a strong complication of multiple births.
Another common reason for IVF failure is poor response from ovarian stimulation. Fewer eggs to fertilize would mean fewer embryos. Clinic counter that with very high dosage of hormones which leads to superovulation. However, if done incorrectly, this could lead to major complication of Hyperstimulation and it’s resulting side effects in the donor mother.
Acceptable and perfectly safe methods to combat IVF failure are GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) in which we transfer the eggs and sperm directly into the fallopian tubes by performing a laparoscopy. There are also cases where failure occurs because embryo transfer gets difficult due to cervical stenosis, associated with tubular bleeding. In such cases where fallopian tubes are open, the technique used is called ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer) where doctors bypass the cervix and place the embryos directly in the fallopian tubes.
Questions to ask while choosing an IVF clinic
How long has the clinic been in existence? How long has the residing doctor been with the clinic? How long has operating staff been with the clinic? Attrition in clinic staff can be a sign of bad management or bad activity.
Which procedures does the clinic perform and with what frequency? A clinic that has a wide range of remedies for infertility and works with the latest technology is always a good choice.
Does the clinic practice age and implant limits? If yes, that shows good ethical make-up and hence good treatment.
When does the clinic recommend advanced procedures like operative implantation? Whose choice is it to decide the number of embryos that are implanted – the patient’s or the doctors? Refrain from using a clinic that gives complete and unconditional control to the doctor. The more eggs implanted, the more likeness of multiple births.
How many clients does the clinic service per year? If the number is too high, chances are there are multiple menstrual cycles being handled each month which could lead to a crowd. The last thing you want is to become a number in the doctors head. Infertility treatment, especially IVF, needs care and attention.
How much does treatment cost? Though the price is definitely not a determinant of choice, it's always better to know costs ahead of time and prepare your finances. Be wary of clinics with money back guarantees in case of failed pregnancies. The doctor may try too hard (and possibly risk harm) in getting you pregnant.