A Doctor’s Perspective: 13 Very Real Thoughts I Had During My First Visit to a Fertility Clinic

So recently, I came across a blog post that really hit home!  I could totally relate from my experiences as a fertility patient. Before reading this, you may want to check out: 13 Very Real Thoughts I Had During My First Visit to a Fertility Clinic. I wanted to share my answers and provide a medical provider perspective to these questions. Keep in mind, these answers relate to the Fertility Centers of Illinois, and I cannot speak to the practices of other clinics.

1. Does anyone here recognize me? I totally had a previous patient recognize me while I was sitting in waiting room. Now this was back when I was a fellow in training and not at my current practice.  I won’t lie, it was a bit awkward. What are you going to do? I have had patients recognize people in the waiting room. Maybe there will be a mutual compassion for having to go through this?

2. This kind of feels like a happy hour, but for a less happy purpose. I encourage patients to think of this is a hopeful process full of potential. While it is a stressful and often emotionally difficult place to be, I would try to focus on the positives of what could come out of it!

3. Are there visiting hours for one’s embryos at a fertility clinic? Um, not really. The embryos are stored in a cryopreservation facility in large canisters of liquid nitrogen. The writer asked if there was an evacuation plan for embryos in the case of an emergency, and there is. In fact, all of the storage tanks have alarms in case the temperature changes or it is tampered with.  After hurricane Katrina, we learned exactly why it was so important to have an evacuation plan.

4. How certain can I be that they’ll put the right embryo back in me? All embryos and eggs are cryopreserved and embryos, sperm, eggs are labeled with a patient’s name and date of birth. With all of the policies and protocols that are in place for checking, double checking and checking a 10th time with multiple people in the process, the chance of a mix-up is as close to zero as you can imagine.  We show the patient the dish with their name on it and load up the embryos from that dish in front of them to put their minds at ease.

5. What kind of porn is there? Most of my patients collect specimens in the privacy of their own homes. I haven’t checked out the porn in detail, but we have videos and magazines. The collection room is in a quiet part of the office to minimize interruptions. Feel free to bring your own computer or smart phone if you want something different or collect at home.

6. How do you apply to be the person who collects the sperm samples after the porn room visit is done? With an application of course. We have scientists called andrologists who process sperm samples for inseminations and in vitro. They have a college degree and special training on how to carefully handle and process sperm samples. There are special washes and preparations that are done for each type of treatment or for a routine semen analysis and they handle that all.

7. Why aren’t there any dirty jokes in the fertility literature explaining the hormone treatments and causes of infertility? I think most of us who help patients with fertility understand what a serious and stressful process it can be. I’m sure plenty of people make jokes. If you can joke about it, all the more power to you. Not all patients appreciate that though!

8. The coffee cake here is AMAZING. Sorry, we don’t serve coffee cake. We do have water in the waiting room!

9. Wait. I think I know someone here. Several of my patients have made friends while they are sitting in the waiting room with the same people every visit. This is common and some people are more interested in chatting while they wait then others. Some offices specifically set up their offices to avoid patients having to interact with each other. I would recommend to do what feels comfortable.

10. If my future child is conceived here, should we come back to visit one day when she’s older? I LOVE seeing my previous patients! We often become very close after treatment and I often keep in touch with patients after they leave our practice. I often have patients come back with their children to meet us, and we are so grateful when they do. Patients are always welcome, and we love baby photos too. It is nice to see or meet the happy baby that came out of so much hard work and love!

11. How many people are masturbating on this floor right now? Maybe 1 or 2. It’s not a big deal.

12. Are the masturbation rooms sound proof? The rooms are kept separate and I can never hear anything that goes on in there. Really.  I always worry that they can hear us in the hallways and will not be able to relax enough to get a specimen. We try to be very respectful of this!

13. Did I shave or wax? Do they care? Everyone thinks their vagina is special. I’ll share a secret. It looks the same as everyone else’s! You have so much to worry about don't add this to the list! It does not matter. We don't care either way. Our main focus is getting you pregnant.  I’m usually focusing on the cervix or the ultrasound screen, and don’t even pay attention to hair.  A shower morning of the procedure is always appreciated. :)


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