Your first visit to an IVF clinic can be intimidating if you do not know what to expect. After all, this is a big step toward the life-changing experience of starting a family and it involves a team of specialists getting involved in the most personal parts of your life. Knowing what to expect can take the stress out of that first visit, which is likely to be a lot more low-key than many people expect. And remember, your first visit is also a chance for you to decide if this is really the right clinic for you. Do not hesitate to ask plenty of questions. If for any reason you are uncomfortable or unhappy with your experience at one clinic, you can try another.
It is best if your regular doctor and any other fertility specialists you have seen can send their medical records in advance of your first visit with the clinic. You will need to sign a medical records release form for this, and you can advise the staff releasing your records of the date of your appointment to help make sure they reach the new doctor on time.
Your first visit is really an initial consultation, and not the start of your treatment. You will spend most, if not all, of the visit filling out forms and discussing your medical history, previous efforts to conceive and general lifestyle. For some couples, this may be the very start of their effort to start a family with medical assistance. They may find that less invasive treatment options or even simple lifestyle changes can help them to conceive. Others may have already tried different fertility treatments that did not work; IVF may be their only real option for conceiving.
From the information gathered from your medical records and discussions, your fertility doctor will recommend various tests. Many different tests may be needed for a couple just starting to address their fertility problems, while those couples who have had extensive previous treatment might not need to repeat each and every test they have already done. Men will generally start with a sperm analysis, while women will undergo a range of blood tests to check on ovulation and hormone levels and scans to look for possible uterine problems such as fibroids.
Your necessary tests will probably be done at a separate appointment, which you can schedule at the end of your first visit. Depending on the outcome of your testing (which will take some time) and your medical history, your doctor will explain your options for fertility treatment and the likelihood of success for different treatment options. It is important to do your own research too and make informed decisions about how you want to proceed with your treatment at the IVF clinic. It is a lot of work, and it is very challenging. Before you begin treatment, it makes sense to think about your own emotional support network and perhaps find a support group through the IVF clinic or online.