Living with infertility is emotionally and physically challenging – even more so if you have been on this journey for a long time. It’s only natural that you want to make sure you’ve explored every option available to you, or, be reassured that what you are doing is exactly what you should be doing. In this setting, seeking a second opinion can identify if there is an alternative treatment approach worth trying or provide reassurance that your current treatment plan is indeed the best way forward.
Psychologically, it can be very important for a woman or couple dealing with infertility to know that they’ve done everything they can to be successful. If you feel like getting a second opinion is an important part of this process, then don’t feel guilty about asking to see someone else or worry that your current doctor will perceive you as a difficult patient. Seeking a second opinion is very common (across all areas of medicine) but is especially important in the setting of infertility, when time is such an important factor in your success. The hard fact is: the older a woman gets, the lower her chances of falling pregnant, even with fertility treatment. Time is truly of the essence.
If you’re feeling uncertain about whether now is the right time to seek the advice of another doctor or clinic, here are some common reasons that you may be able to relate to:
If you’ve faced an extended period of failed IVF attempts and repeated disappointment, now may be the right time to look elsewhere for advice. How long you choose to stick with your current specialist depends on your individual circumstances. Fertility treatment often takes time, regardless of the specialist or clinic involved, so it’s important to be sure that you are seeking a second opinion for the right reasons and at the right stage of your care. The fact is, there are are many factors that can influence your chance of success with IVF – having another clinician review why IVF may not be working for you, may be the key to your future success.
If you have doubts about the approach your doctor is taking and they won’t or can’t offer you any alternative treatment options, a second opinion may open the door to new possibilities and set your mind at ease. Remember, not all fertility doctors have the same level of expertise or experience. Some doctors may have a preferred treatment approach, as this is what they are used to, or have had the most success with. In this case, talking to someone new could reveal other options worth trying or better suited to your circumstances.
A woman or couple’s fertility is a highly sensitive topic and different people need different levels of support. If you feel like you haven’t been getting the level of attention you require or you sense a lack of care or compassion from your current clinic or specialist, a change in provider may lead you to a doctor with whom you have greater rapport and who gives you greater peace of mind. Besides the fertility specialist, also consider the wider fertility team with whom you have to interact with during the course of your care – the fertility nurses and counsellors, even the receptionists. If the ‘vibe’ you get from the people involved in your care is not on par with your expectations, then you may find that another fertility clinic is more ‘up your alley’.
If your current clinic cannot offer treatment in a price range you find acceptable, a change in provider may be a very practical solution for you. Undergoing fertility treatment is stressful enough – you don’t want to have to worry about your finances as well. If your funds are running low (or were low to begin with!), you may find that another fertility clinic offers the same treatment at lower rates, so that your overall out-of-pocket expenses are lower. This is particularly true for IVF, as cycle fees can vary considerably from one clinic to the next.
You aren’t alone in your fertility journey – talking to others who have first-hand experience with fertility treatment can help shed light on other clinics and fertility specialists and what they are like to deal with. This could be a great time for you to speak to your peers or join a fertility support group to help you decide what you should do next.
If you have a good relationship with your current fertility specialist, be open with them about wanting to seek a second opinion and ask them if there is someone else they might suggest. In this case, they will usually write a referral letter and/or call the specialist they are referring you to, in order to explain your fertility journey to date and outline what they see as the key outstanding issues in your care. You may feel uncomfortable about having this conversation with your doctor, particularly if you’ve been through a lot with them, but remember that they ultimately have your best interests at heart and also want you to do what’s necessary to be successful.
Lastly, you can also ask your GP if there is another specialist or clinic they would recommend. GPs see many patients with fertility issues, so may know someone with similar issues to you that had success with a particular treatment, approach, or doctor.
If you would like a fresh perspective on your fertility treatment from Melbourne’s caring, experienced fertility specialists, the doctors at Newlife IVF would be very happy to review the treatment you’ve received thus far, and provide advice on the options available to you. To make an appointment, call (03) 8080 8933 or book online.