Evaluating Your Fertility: When Should You Seek Out a Second Opinion?
At some point in your fertility journey, you may find yourself taking a step back and evaluating your treatment protocol as well as your relationship with your doctor and support staff and wondering if you should get a second opinion. Knowing when it’s time to change treatment protocols versus when it’s time to consider changing doctors or clinics is an important distinction. Read on for some questions and answers that may help you navigate this decision.
Evaluating Your Fertility
Have you been on the same fertility treatment protocol for 3 cycles or more?
Yes: Most fertility doctors will advise that if you haven’t seen success in 3 cycles, it’s time to consider whether the current infertility treatment protocol is working. Speak with your doctor about altering medication choices or levels, adding supplements or acupuncture, or changing treatments altogether.
No: It can take up to 3 cycles to see success with some fertility treatments. It’s a good idea to ask questions about potential changes in advance, so that you can have a game plan if your current treatment continues to be unsuccessful. Having an open dialogue about next steps along with a plan in place can help you feel more confident in your treatment and minimize the frustration that can come from failed cycles.
Have you been sticking to a specific fertility treatment for financial reasons?
Yes: Try reviewing your infertility insurance coverage one more time. Make sure you are clear on what fertility treatments, diagnostics, or surgical procedures for fertility are covered and what’s not. When in doubt, call and speak with someone at your insurance company about your fertility benefits. If you don’t have coverage or you only have coverage for some less invasive treatments, call your fertility clinic’s financial advisor. This person will have an idea of what your insurance covers and will talk to you about financing options at your clinic. You can also look into outside financing options. In some cases, moving to a higher tech treatment like IVF can be less expensive in the long run versus undergoing multiple unsuccessful IUI cycles.
No: If finances aren’t the reason you’ve been continuing with the same treatment, ask yourself why. Is it fear of the unknown? Feeling like you’re advancing through treatments too quickly? Your doctor hasn’t brought it up? Remember, the goal of fertility treatment is to help you conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. If your doctor hasn’t brought up a change in protocol or seems hesitant to engage with you around your options, it may be time to speak with a different doctor.
Do you understand your fertility doctor’s plans for your upcoming cycle?
Yes: Good. It is important to advocate for your own health, especially when it comes to making a baby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make phone calls.
No: Call your fertility doctor and ask for clarification. Your doctor and his or her team want you to be fully aware of the risks and benefits and likelihood of success of your treatment plan. They will help you understand the protocol and you should voice your concerns, if any. If your doctor isn’t available to answer your questions before your next cycle, ask your fertility nurse. They are there to help.
Do you feel uneasy about one aspect of your treatment, but are afraid to speak up?
Yes: If something doesn’t sound right to you, question it. Your doctor will explain why they have chosen a specific fertility treatment protocol. If you’re still not satisfied after getting clarification, it may be time for a second opinion.
No: That’s great! If at any time you do feel leery about the fertility treatment plan, speak up. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Remember, you are your own best advocate.
Have you been considering a second opinion, but you just haven’t taken the leap yet?
Yes: Surprisingly, fertility patients report the reason they haven’t sought out a second opinion is fear of insulting their fertility doctor. The truth is, your doctor knows just as well as you do that a good fit is important. If you’re feeling like this is no longer a good fit, or you’re wondering what other options are available elsewhere, remember that this is a professional relationship and your care is dependent upon it. Don’t think of this as “breaking up” with your fertility doctor. Just because you get a second opinion doesn’t mean you have to switch clinics. Sometimes simply hearing the same treatment plan from a different doctor can bring you peace or clarity. Think of a second opinion as a step in the right direction for treating your fertility.
No: Take all of the above factors into consideration to ensure you are comfortable with your fertility treatment. If you’re not, or you have lingering questions that haven’t been answered by your clinic, it may be time to speak with someone new.
To find out if you’re eligible for Progyny benefits, or to start your benefit, call us at 888.597.5065 .
Dr. Alan Copperman is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with a long history of success in treating infertility and applying fertility preservation technologies. He serves as Medical Director of Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company, and co-founded and serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York, one of the largest and most prestigious IVF centers in the country. Dr. Copperman is also the Vice Chairman and Director of Infertility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer of Sema4, a health information company. Dr. Copperman has been named to New York magazine’s list of Best Doctors 17 years in a row. He has been recognized by his peers and patient advocacy organizations for his commitment to patient-focused and data-driven care. He has published more than 100 original manuscripts and book chapters on reproductive medicine and has co-authored over 300 scientific abstracts on infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, ovum donation, and reproductive genetics.