Virginia Hamilton Furnari is Illume Fertility's former Brand Specialist and has a background in writing, marketing, and content production. In addition to helping mold the Illume Fertility brand through blogs, videos, and events, she was also a patient and has undergone many fertility treatments. Given her professional and personal involvement in the fertility community, she has immersed her mind, body, and soul in family-building education.
So, you’ve booked your first fertility consultation. Congratulations! This is one of the toughest hurdles in the whole journey. Committing yourself to the process is a great feat, and we’re all so proud of you for doing that.
But get ready – this first consultation is full of information, new faces, and all the possible avenues for your unique journey. At Illume Fertility, in the age of COVID social distancing, you'll first meet your doctor on a telehealth video call, then be introduced to the rest of your fertility team via email, phone call, and/or video call soon thereafter. Your fertility team consists of a core group of experts devoted to your particular treatment (a reproductive endocrinologist, nurse, patient navigator, and insurance and billing advocate). With your doctor and the rest of your team, you will discuss what led you to this point and where you can go from here.
We never want you to feel like you’re alone in this, and we certainly don’t want something to fall through the cracks because of overwhelm, an unasked question, or a miscommunication. Our goal is to make you feel supported, educated, and in control of your journey, as much as you possibly can.
That’s why we’ve created the ultimate Fertility Consultation Guide, complete with a downloadable worksheet to make sure you’re getting the most out of your one-on-one meeting with your doctor or team. This worksheet will prepare you for the appointment, supply you with questions to ask, and allow you space to take notes. (Jump to the bottom of this blog to download the guide, or click the link above!)
Your fertility team is always here to address any questions, concerns, or logistics about your journey and will hold your hand through the entire process. The purpose of this guide, though, is to help you feel confident in the process from the start and to allow you as much of a transparent, smooth, and hiccup-free journey as possible.
The Fertility Consultation Guide
Below, we will go through the different phases of your fertility consultation, starting with preparation, moving into the actual consultation, and finishing with next steps to keep the process moving forward. Make sure to download your free guided worksheet to take with you to the consultation!
Know What You’re Scheduling
First and foremost, make sure you’re scheduling a time where both you and your partner, if necessary, can be there. At Illume Fertility, all of our first consultations are telehealth appointments (video appointments), so physically being in the same room as one another is preferred. Check to see how your fertility clinic will host your consultation and plan accordingly.
Prep Your Space
We wrote an entire article devoted to getting the most of your Zoom appointments (or any other video platform). It’s important to make sure the lighting is right (nothing fancy, just so the doctor can see your face), you keep movement to a minimum (try not to take the doctor on a roller coaster ride), and many other specific pointers so you, your partner, and your doctor can focus on family building…not on a silly video concern.
Is your consultation a video call? Make sure you’re the most prepared with these 6 tips.
Give It Some Thought
There are a few things you should walk into your first fertility consultation with. These will take a moment of pause beforehand to really think through and might even take some note taking.
What background information can you share? Think about your journey with health and family building thus far. Sometimes, when we’re nervous or hearing a lot of information, we can leave things out. You want to make sure you remember the ins and outs of your story so the fertility team knows the exact course of care to offer you.
Come with a list of questions. We provide you with a preemptive list in “The Appointment” section below, but what questions are you thinking about? This can be a concern you want addressed, a piece of your health history that you want to know more about, or even a more logistical question about your health insurance or scheduling. It’s all fair game and you’ll want to come prepared so you don’t walk out without the answers you really want.
Think about the finances of it all. Are you paying out of pocket or using insurance? At this point you don’t know how much this will cost you exactly, but you’ve probably done some research, checking out the costs for a variety of treatments. At Illume Fertility, we provide you with an Insurance and Billing Advocate who will take care of the bulk of the health insurance conversations, however, it’s still important for you to be informed and know what your benefits are.
Prior to your consultation is a great time tocall your insurance company and see what sort of benefits you have for fertility, if the clinic you’re scheduled to visit is a clinic they validate (many insurance companies will only provide coverage if you go to a Center of Excellence), and what limitations they include within the coverage. Here are a few questions for your provider if you need a starting point:
Think about your goals. Think about what you want – a baby. Remember that this is the beginning of the journey, and we will get it through it together with you.
Questions to Ask Your Team
It’s hard to know what questions you’ll have in the moment about procedures, plans, or the science of it all, but there are some pre-planned questions for which you should want answers. (As I mentioned before, you will have specific questions for your own journey, but the following are questions many patients want answered.)
We recognize it’s a lot going on at once, so here is a quick checklist to make sure you know what comes next:
Follow up with your navigator about scheduling your diagnostic testing. This may require booking a few different appointments, so have your calendar handy!
Does your clinic have alternative resources, like acupuncture and nutrition? Come up with a plan as to when (and if) you’d like to include these in your treatment. (If you're an Illume Fertility patient, make sure you ask about our Integrated Fertility and Wellness team!)
What logistical items are a priority right now? Think: health insurance, medical records, finances, and additional research.
Lastly, one of the biggest next steps is to gauge how you’re feeling. Are you happy? Do you feel like you connected with the doctor and the rest of your fertility team? The doctor-patient relationship is vitally important to a fertility journey, and here at Illume Fertility, we want to make sure you have the right fit. Make sure to speak up if you have any concerns with your team.
Ready to Move Forward?
No matter where you go for fertility treatment, your team should be working to support you, supplying you with useful tools and valuable information, ultimately setting you up for success. You should feel confident, in-the-know, and like you have a group of superheroes working for you.
Please know that it’s very possible to have all of your questions answered within the consultation and still walk away with a big one unanswered: “Will this work?”
Let me assure you, that for Illume Fertility, we will do all we can to build the family of your dreams, and the first step is helping prepare your mind, body, and soul right from the beginning. Good luck at your fertility consultation, and we hope you feel in the driver’s seat of this up-and-down journey.
Use our guided consultation worksheet, complete with room for notes and sample questions, to take control of your journey from the start.