Be A Wise Consumer In The Booming Fertility Industry

Be A Wise Consumer In The Booming Fertility Industry

With the birth of the McCaughey's septuplets, fertility care has been thrown into the spotlight in popular magazines and on radio and television. With one in six couples now experiencing some sort of fertility challenge, competition in the industry has become fierce, as patients can sometimes spend tens of thousands of dollars in hopes of attaining that most precious treasure - a child. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal cited that the fertility industry now has "an estimated $2 billion or more in annual sales of drugs, devices and other treatments...with annual growth of 20% projected for the industry through the turn of the century."

Yet from a patient's standpoint, this booming industry brings with it potential pitfalls as well as new hope. Certainly, as the industry has grown, new procedures have made it possible for many couples to fulfill their dreams of an extended family. However, as with other fast growing industries, there are always those who will take advantage of the situation, or who will become involved in the industry where they lack the credentials.

As a former patient, and now in the business of consulting others with fertility challenges, I often see so many patients not getting the proper medical care - sometimes even from doctors claiming to be "specialists." This is of particular concern because the term "infertility specialist" is a very gray term, at best. Almost any OB/Gyn can call themselves an infertility specialist if they have treated patients for infertility. The term is not recognized in the medical field, and thus no specific credentials are required to use it. Those doctors who have truly specialized in infertility are considered to be "Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology."

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), while the McCaughey's were seeing a Board-Certified OB/Gyn who claimed to be an "infertility specialist," their doctor was not a reproductive endocrinologist. A certified, responsible reproductive endocrinologist would most likely have properly monitored Mrs. McCaughey during the cycle to observe how her egg follicles were developing. The doctor then would have either induced ovulation when only a few follicles were present, or she would have had Mrs. McCaughey's cycle canceled all together if it looked as if there was a potential for too many eggs to be released - and hence, too many embryos from forming. In the simplest terms, although the birth was a miracle, the conception of that many babies could have been controlled without selective reduction even coming into the picture.

For this reason, it is imperative for anyone who may even suspect they have a fertility problem to know how to go about getting the proper medical care up front. Unfortunately, when an unsuspecting couple is confronting a fertility challenge, their gut reaction usually leads them to pick a doctor's name who "specializes in infertility" out of the phone book, and then put all of their trust in this doctor for proper care. As some fertility patients have experienced, you could be wasting precious time, energy, and money if you take this approach.

One of the first pieces of advice I give a couple who is struggling with a fertility difficulty is to educate themselves as much as possible on fertility and infertility treatment. This includes knowing how to select and work with a physician and clinic that will meet their individual needs. Knowing the right questions to ask helps ensure they are getting the proper medical care.

But how do you know what questions to ask, or how to select that suitable doctor? The answer is right at your fingertips. There are many resources on the Internet to equip struggling couples with the appropriate questions to ask their fertility specialist. Although you must be a wise consumer of Internet information, a wealth of information is available at some very reputable sites.

If you are still thinking "I don't have access to a computer" or "I don't know how to use the Internet" - never fear! Many Public Libraries now have Internet access , and some even offer classes on how to use the Internet. So now (if you are one of the five million people in the US struggling with a fertility challenge) you have no excuses for not helping yourself in the best way possible - by getting proper medical care, and hopefully minimizing the time it takes to attain that child of your dreams.

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