Skip to main content

Trying to conceive?

«  View All Posts

Fertility Treatment /
Advocacy /
Choosing a Clinic

11 Tips for Choosing the Best Fertility Clinic

Learn what to focus on when searching for a fertility clinic in order to give yourself the best possible chances of success.

January 8th, 2024 | 14 min. read

By Spencer Richlin, MD

How do I choose the best fertility clinic for me? Which factors should I pay attention to as I evaluate my options? Here are the most important aspects of a fertility practice and how they relate to your journey to parenthood.

In this article:

Finding the Right Provider for You 

Embarking on the journey to parenthood is a life-changing decision, and selecting the right fertility clinic to is a crucial step in the process for millions of hopeful parents each year.

Whether you live in a rural area with only one or two clinics nearby or a metropolitan area with dozens of options to choose from, sorting through potential providers (and knowing how to evaluate them) can be overwhelming. 

In this guide, you will learn the nine most important factors to consider when choosing the best fertility clinic. Finding a practice that aligns with your unique needs will not only ensure you have the smoothest experience possible, but also impact your chances of success!

Where to Look for a Fertility Doctor

If you're not even sure where to turn as you begin your search for a fertility care provider, here are a few places to start.

  • Your OB/GYN: Ask your gynecologist which fertility specialists they recommend.
  • Friends or family: If you're comfortable asking the trusted people in your life, you'll likely discover that far more people than you expected have gone through infertility.
  • Google: The internet can be a great resource, but practices can pay to have their name shown first on search engines - so just because you see one clinic repeatedly pop up in search results doesn't necessarily mean it's the best one.
Should you trust online reviews?

Well, it depends! The National Center for Health Research offers these helpful guidelines for evaluating a medical provider's online reviews and what to consider as you read them:

"Online reviews should only be taken seriously if there are many reviews and a clear 'trend' in the comments (for instance, most reviewers complained about the receptionist, but felt the doctor really listened to them).

Even then, the reviews probably can’t tell you about the quality of medical care you will get unless the reviewers are knowledgeable and provide specific information that you can judge for yourself.

Until you visit a doctor for the first time and see for yourself, there is limited information you can gather. And, just because a doctor went to a well-respected medical school doesn’t mean he or she has a good bedside manner or is punctual."

How to Choose the Best Fertility Clinic

Whether you are just beginning your fertility journey or re-evaluating your options after several unsuccessful treatment cycles, empowering yourself with the knowledge to make an informed decision will help you embark on this next chapter of your life with confidence.

As you comb through all the reviews, websites, and referrals, ask the following questions to help narrow your search and find the right fertility clinic for you.

1. Are the doctors board-certified reproductive endocrinologists?

First things first - do the doctors have the highest possible level of training in infertility and reproductive health? Are they board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI)? Here's how to find out.

Be aware that some practices may still use the term 'fertility specialist' to describe a provider that doesn't actually have these specific credentials - and there is a significant difference!

What makes an REI doctor your best option?

The robust medical education that these doctors undertake give them the best tools to assess your unique situation and know what the best next steps are.

In addition to four years of medical school and four years in residency for obstetrics and gynecology, REIs must also complete three years of specialty training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

After eleven years of intense training, they must pass extensive knowledge-based tests (both written and oral) in order to receive their board certification. In short, board-certified reproductive endocrinologists are the elite option in family building.

2. How many physicians/locations does the practice have?

These questions go hand in hand. The more doctors a practice tends to have, the more far-reaching their office(s) might be. This is a matter of both personal preference and proximity.

Location is usually a major factor in deciding which clinic is right for you. For some, a two-hour drive is a deal breaker. For others, it’s their only option. The good news is that some practices, like Illume Fertility, will let you do your morning monitoring at a local lab that’s more convenient for you.

Note: The local facility will need to have a partnership with the fertility clinic and be fully equipped to administer all necessary bloodwork and procedures on their behalf.

Multi-Provider vs. Single Provider Fertility Clinics

Now, let’s talk about the number of physicians in a given medical practice.

There are pros and cons for each type: multi-provider vs. single provider. Are you more comfortable seeing just one doctor in a smaller office with fewer patients? Or do you appreciate the chance to see multiple doctors and have access to multiple office locations, with a higher volume of patients?

Option 1: Small Practice / Single Provider
  • For smaller practices, the pros may include the ability to establish a closer relationship with your doctor and the clinic's staff, and feeling like you are receiving hyper-individualized care.
  • The cons for a small practice might be inconvenient appointment times, waiting lists, and not as many supplemental resources (for example: on-site labs, nutrition, acupuncture, support groups).
Option 2: Large Practice / Multi-Provider
  • For larger practices with multiple providers, the pros could be convenient office locations, lots of appointment slots to choose from, their ability to offer supplemental resources (onsite labs, nutrition, acupuncture, support groups, etc.), and having a robust team of practitioners, as opposed to just one.
  • The cons for a larger practice could be feeling like a number or seeing new faces in the hall at each visit. That said, if a large practice is good at what they do, they’ll make sure you always feel comfortable and cared for - not just another number.

3. What are the fertility clinic's success rates?

This is very important - here's why:

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) provides unbiased information about fertility treatment outcomes and has set standards for in vitro fertilization (IVF) since 1985. SART keeps track of pregnancy rates from participating clinics across the country and publishes them on its website annually.

Clinics that share their results with SART are most committed to providing transparency to their future and current patients, as they are required to report accurately.

Note: Don’t just look at the total live birth rates – check out your particular age bracket, comparing the number of total cycles and that specific percentage of success.

You deserve the best.

This journey isn't always easy - and a dedicated Care Team devoted to your success can make all the difference. 

Learn More

4. How does the fertility clinic communicate with patients?

As patients become more and more technologically-savvy, fertility clinics should keep pace. If the practice only communicates via phone, has an frustrating patient portal, or takes a long time to follow up with you, it might not be the right fit.

Consider your personal preferences - do you want to be able to text or message your clinic regularly? Do you have any specific expectations for response times? How often would you like to communicate with your primary doctor vs. clinic nurses? Take everything into account.

5. Does the clinic perform extensive testing?

Diagnostic testing is another key component of modern, state-of-the-art clinics. Let's discuss why - and what sort of testing services you should look for as you evaluate your options.

Fertility Testing

Though it can be tempting to want to jump straight into fertility treatment without undergoing extensive fertility testing first, doing this before understanding the root cause of your infertility means your team will be "flying blind."

Skipping the diagnostic stage will typically lead to more unsuccessful cycles, a longer time to pregnancy, and immense frustration - not to mention costing you a lot more money.

By taking the time to assess the shape and size of your uterus, state of your fallopian tubes/ovaries, review your hormone levels via blood work, your doctor will have a much more complete picture of what you'll need to succeed. 

Genetic Carrier Screening

This will be especially important for your clinic to have if you and/or your partner have a known family history of any genetic conditions.

Genetic carrier screening is usually performed during the initial round of testing and examinations and will assess whether you and/or your partner are carriers for any genetic mutations (i.e. cystic fibrosis, Tay Sachs disease, or sickle cell anemia).

Embryo Testing

Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) allows embryos created through IVF to be carefully biopsied and evaluated to ensure each embryo has the correct number of chromosomes. This type of testing can expose potential chromosomal abnormalities that might lead to pregnancy loss or severe health complications for a future child. 

All of this information helps your doctor and embryologist understand you and/or your partner's unique genetic makeup so they can choose the healthiest, strongest embryo to transfer - potentially avoiding miscarriage and helping you get pregnant sooner. 

a6. What treatment options does the clinic offer?

If you’re new to the world of fertility, you might be surprised to learn that there are other options than just heading straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF). While IVF does offer the highest success rates, it is also the most invasive and expensive pathway to parenthood.

Make sure you’re choosing a clinic that offers you a variety of treatments and not a one-size-fits-all approach. Some examples of other treatments include timed intercourse, ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination (IUI), surrogacy, and cryopreservation options.

During your initial consultation, your doctor and/or fertility team should get to know you. Once they hear your story and know everything there is to know about your diagnosis, they will be able to recommend a family-building game plan based on the treatments they offer.

Why it matters: A clinic with a broad range of treatment options will give you the best chance - not only for success, but a positive experience.

7. Do they have their own in-house laboratories?

Many smaller fertility clinics will not have their own embryology and andrology labs on-site, while larger practices might. Either way, it is of the utmost importance that your clinic uses the highest standards in quality control within the labs they utilize.

An embryology lab is where embryos are created (by fertilizing an egg with designated sperm), monitored closely, and prepared for transfer or cryopreserved for later use.

An andrology lab is where sperm is collected, analyzed, and prepped for IUI procedures or to send to the embryology lab for egg fertilization.

Consider where the clinic's labs are located, how samples or gametes are transferred to and from the labs, and what quality-control procedures are in place. It’s important you feel comfortable and confident in every aspect of how a clinic operates…even the parts you don’t see.

8. Is the clinic LGBTQ+ friendly and inclusive?

This is especially important for hopeful parents in the LGBTQ+ community.

Feeling welcomed as a queer patient should be the bare minimum! Ideally, you'll want to work with a fertility clinic that regularly cares for LGBTQ+ patients, has plenty of family-building pathways to offer you (i.e. reciprocal IVF, surrogacy, trans fertility options), and shows a high level of respect and understanding of your unique needs.

One way to find an LGBTQ+ inclusive clinic is by using the Human Rights Campaign's helpful online search tool. You can also call the clinic and ask what they offer LGBTQ+ patients (for example, a special support program like Illume's Gay Parents To Be).

9. What insurance do they accept? What is their pricing?

If you’re lucky enough to have fertility coverage under your health insurance plan, one of the most important things to consider is whether the clinic accepts your insurance. That will help you cover much of the treatment costs.

Unfortunately, many insurance policies still do not cover fertility. If your plan doesn't offer fertility benefits, know that you still have options! Talk with your insurance provider and your company's HR department.

Make sure you’re tapping into every benefit to which you’re entitled. You can then look into grants, loans, and financing, including packages that might be offered by the fertility clinic.

After your initial consult, you will most likely speak with the clinic's financial advisor.

Remember: This person is on your team and wants to help you afford treatment. They will walk you through any opportunity plans, what your insurance will cover, and other financial resources available to you.

Is Illume right for you?

Get our comprehensive guide to choosing the right fertility clinic - and learn more about our practice as you evaluate your options.

Download Now

10. Does the fertility clinic offer holistic support?

You might think all that's needed for fertility treatment is a bunch of lab coats, microscopes, and medical procedures. But there are so many other ways to supplement your journey that have been proven to increase your chances of having a baby - and improve your experience.

Here's what to look for:

  • Does the clinic have a nutritionist that will help you establish a fertility-friendly diet or manage a particular health issue (such as PCOS)? Is there an acupuncturist on site? 
  • What about mental health resources? The strain infertility can take on your emotional wellbeing, your relationship, and day-to-day life can be quite challenging to navigate. Having the support of a licensed professional counselor can make a world of difference.
  • Are there support groups or yoga classes available?

Remember: Supplemental offerings like these are not just simple perks a clinic can offer - they can genuinely affect your success as a patient.

11. Are they involved in outreach, research, and advocacy?

This might not seem important to your specific journey, but really, it is.

The people that fight for fertility coverage, access, and equality are the reason we have such amazing clinics to choose from in the first place! If a fertility clinic is doing good outside of their clinic, it shows their staff has both heart and integrity.

Some key organizations that your top clinics might work with are RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Resolve of New England, Family Equality, and Fertility Within Reach. Those are also excellent resources on their own for fertility support and information.

Also consider a clinic that participates in research. For the same reason as advocacy and outreach, a clinic that is trying to better the science is clearly in it for patient success. They want to refine the technology, science, and treatments so you can have a better experience.

You've Got This

With all of these factors in mind, take a deep breath. Now that you know where to look for a provider and what to ask to find the best fertility clinic for you - trust your gut instincts.

Be confident in your decision and always be an advocate for yourself first. Speak up for yourself, take advantage of every resource possible, and make sure to tell your doctor and fertility care team how you're feeling throughout the entire journey.

From all of us here at Illume, we wish you the best of luck on your path to parenthood!

Spencer Richlin, MD

Dr. Spencer Richlin is Surgical Director and Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Illume Fertility. In addition, he is Division Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Norwalk Hospital. Dr. Richlin is board certified in both Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics & Gynecology. He joined the team at Illume Fertility in 2004.

220301-IL-D Iconography Library_NV-NavyBlue_phone

Ready to get started?

Our team of nine board certified reproductive endocrinologists are here to help you achieve your goals. Reach out to our friendly team today to book a consultation! 

Contact Us