Take charge of your fertility treatment; steps you can take optimize your success

One of the most frustrating aspects of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby is the sense that you’re not in control of your own destiny. Most of us take for granted that our health will accurately reflect our fertility. Therefore, why shouldn’t we be able to conceive whenever we decide the timing is right? At least that’s the common perception. The repeated success of friends and family often makes it even more exasperating. I know this. Not only do I treat couples trying to become pregnant on a daily basis but my wife and I went through fertility treatment on our own. During our treatment, we were repeatedly annoyed by the lack of individualization of our treatment protocol by my colleagues whom we’d entrusted our care to. Worse still was the way our input was disregarded even though we’re as fully informed of the science behind the treatment as they were.

My wife and I chose to redirect our approach to treatment; both personally and professionally. After all, I didn’t want my patients to experience the same frustrations that we endured. The results or our action was dramatic; we now have a daughter and we manage a fertility treatment center that empowers patients. We remain fully committed to helping other couples take control of their fertility treatment as well regardless of where they go for treatment. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Get informed—Although it is important that expose yourself to as much information as possible, it is best to consider the source as well as how old the material is that you’re reading. In other words, not everything you read is accurate. Some is outdated and much of it may be true but not apply to you. Seek information that is verifiable. Look for reputable sources and references to specific research studies.
  • Ask questions—Once you feel comfortable with your knowledge base, write down questions. Don’t be shy about asking your doctor very specific reasons why the do or do not recommend a specific course of action if it is appealing to you. It’s best for your doctor to earn your trust through such encounters rather than expect it based upon their title or reputation.
  • Create a fertility plan—This is a unique concept that I don’t think enough people do for themselves. Take the time to consider your options and periodically re-evaluate your goals. Just like writing a business plan or creating an itinerary for a planned vacation plan your course of action. There is nothing that can be more empowering than to actually be in control. If you need some assistance with this, check out pp, 127-129 and pp 285-287 in my book PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR FERTILITY.
  • Analyze your diet and lifestyle—Consider the steps that you and your partner can take outside of the doctor’s office to boost your chance of pregnancy. This can involve matters like losing weight, taking a prenatal vitamin or evidence-based supplement or finding ways to lower your stress level. Bottom line is that success begins at home.
  • Consider a second opinion—If you’re not comfortable with the plan proposed to you, consider meeting with another board certified reproductive endocrinologist. There is typically more than way to achieve success. You should be able to form a partnership with your doctor that you’re both comfortable with. Therefore you shouldn’t feel committed to seeking treatment that you’re not comfortable with since there are other options.

4 thoughts on “Take charge of your fertility treatment; steps you can take optimize your success

  1. Dr Dr Greene, I am happy to find your blog. With certainty in my heart, I know you can fully identify with couples who seek treatment due to infertility because you have gone through it yourself. The first paragraph of this blog entry you have written really touched my heart because that is exactly how I am feeling. And I am not even a medical student of any sort!

    Dr Greene, just as you have suggested about getting informed, I have been doing that since our second attempt at IVF failed. During both attempts, we left everything to the professionals. I feel that I cannot anymore. I dont want to keep failing cycles. I have seen many doing up to 10 or even 20! I dont want to go there. I dont have the money to go there anyway.

    I read about Sher’s Institiute’s A/ACP protocol. Can I ask you why it is not a protocol popularly used around the globe? I know SIRM uses this protocol for a big portion of its patients but it is not common around the world. My question is if it is that successful, why then hasnt it been used all over the world. The common protocols are still Long down regulation cycle and antagonist cycles, and even the flare cycle, which SIRM deems not as effective. Can you clarify?

    Thanks!

    1. Dear mum2oneds,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I am pleased that you are seeking information and willing to ask the tough questions. Personally and professionally, I don’t follow standardized guidelines. Instead, I review the data and always seek to apply it in an individualized fashion to each individual/couple’s unique circumstances. As a result of my perspective, I am willing to consider new protocols that come along. However, I am also unwilling to adopt any “group think” either which may explain why I am no longer part of SIRM (I now work for California IVF Fertility Center). My concern is that too often some of my colleagues either get comfortable doing things a certain way or they let their ego interfere with their decision-making resulting in them defend their unique protocol too vigorously. For instance, I do believe that many patients benefit from the A/ACP protocol. However, I do feel that it adds unnecessary expense and complexity if it is used on the majority of patients. I hope that my rambling has clarified rather than confused you further.
      Best thoughts,
      ~Robert
      Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

  2. No, Dr Greene, you are not rambling. I fully understand where you are coming from. And your own experience is a true testimonial for your patients that you would want the best to happen to them. Thank you for thinking out of the box. We need doctors like you! My REs are conventional and inflexible and just want me to shut up. He said I read too much onthe web. They are intimidated by patients who ask too many questions! I am very glad about your blog entries on natural living. You have a good balance with your perspective as a doctor. 🙂

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