Five Things to Look for When Choosing an IVF Center

Vikrant Reddy, MS testing lab materials Selecting an in vitro fertilization (IVF) program to assist in family building can be a stressful decision. Contributing to the anxiety is the fact that many of the important aspects of a good IVF center can be hard to assess.

People/Culture/Team

People are the greatest single resource in an IVF center. Encouraging teamwork in the workplace helps to build staff morale which makes the setting more productive and improves patient care and outcomes. In a positive team environment, if one person succeeds, everyone is a step closer to success. These aspects are often hard to assess before one becomes a patient. At Stanford Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Health, we have implemented a care team model for patient care to represent the important elements of working together to achieve our patient’s goals.

Facility

Providing patients and caregivers with a state-of-the-art, comfortable, efficient space for evaluations and treatments is another important feature of a good IVF center. Convenient access with good patient flow in a comfortable, privacy-sensitive environment makes it easier to get the best care in a facility that has everything for treatment and diagnosis all under one roof. Our facility was completed 2.5 years ago combining the best technology for great patient care in one comfortable, convenient setting.

Laboratory

The IVF laboratory could be considered the rate-limiting step in the IVF process because the laboratory can easily make a good embryo bad, but cannot make a bad embryo good. The best an IVF lab can do is maintain the quality of the gametes (sperm or eggs) and embryos that the patients provide. At the Stanford Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Health IVF Laboratory, we employ highly qualified embryologists and laboratory professionals to work in one of the most state-of-the-art laboratories in the world. The laboratory recently received its 10th College of American Pathologists (CAP) reaccreditation. The CAP accreditation process is designed to ensure the highest standard of care for all laboratory patients. During the evaluation, inspectors examine the laboratory’s records and quality control of procedures for the two previous years. CAP inspectors also examine laboratory staff qualifications, equipment, facilities, safety program and record, and overall management. Our IVF laboratory once again passed with zero deficiencies, a reflection of excellent performance. As a reflection of this, we have zero tolerance for laboratory errors. We have developed a system for complete chain of custody for all tissues whether fresh or frozen, including eggs, sperm and embryos with a lab professional witnessing all critical steps in the process.

Expertise

Stanford Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Health is more than an IVF center. We are a reproductive medicine center ready to provide a broad variety of reproductive health treatment options for couples and individuals. Our expertise ranges from conservative natural conception therapies to advanced robotic surgeries. Our faculty have pioneered many treatments that are now standard of care in our field. In addition, they have published over *(1000) peer-reviewed articles and book chapters that have contributed to the body of knowledge in our IVF literature. Many of our faculty hold and have held leadership positions in our national and international professional societies. They are guiding and molding the future of this field. Our faculty also train future reproductive endocrinologists though our fellowship program in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI).

Outcomes

It’s not easy to tell which clinics have the best success rates for helping people build a family. Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) outcome registries are the only organizations that collect IVF outcomes for public review but they are not designed to compare IVF centers. It is therefore very difficult to assess an IVF center’s performance without personal experience. This problem is made more difficult by the fact that patient selection, financial packages and personal preferences often muddy the water by introducing patient/treatment-specific options that may not apply to all patients. Therefore, being able to provide the full range of REI therapies and not just IVF makes it even harder to measure performance for any one treatment as they are all very specific to each patient. At Stanford Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Health we are proud to be the “Doctor treat all” vs “Doctor look good.”

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