You’ve got a lot invested in your quest to be a parent: time, money, and emotions. So make sure you know how to make the most of your visits to a fertility clinic.
Here’s some advice from an expert, a nurse at a busy fertility clinic.
Recently, I was asked what makes a good patient. I smiled to myself, because it seemed like such a loaded question. I’m an infertility nurse working in a very intense specialty. My patients tend to be intelligent, knowledgeable women with a very definite goal: having a baby. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list to help any prospective parent be the best fertility patient possible, with the best chance of success.
Always be Honest With the Doctors and Nurses
This is not the time to be shy or embarrassed. 'Fess up to any mistakes such as taking the wrong medications, mixing meds incorrectly, forgetting instructions or not following them exactly. If you’ve started smoking again, tell us, because it can change your treatment. We’re not mind-readers, and we can’t help unless we know what’s happened. You’d be surprised by how many women wait until after a problem is detected to say, “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you about...”
Call Us Right Away With Any Questions about Your Fertility Treatment
Make sure you understand the instructions you're given. Most times, little mistakes can be corrected if you act promptly. But if you wait several days before clarifying the confusion, it may affect your treatment. Remember, there are no dumb questions! Communicating with your nurses and doctors can only benefit you.
Be Careful About Comparing Your Fertility Treatment With Other Women’s
There are dozens of different infertility drug protocols, and each is specific for a reason. I know that patients like to compare every aspect of their treatment with friends, or talk about it in infertility chat rooms. I get the phone calls to prove it. But comparing cycles is like comparing apples and oranges. Every protocol is precise, chosen for various reasons just for you. If you want to know why yours is different from someone else’s, call us. We’ll do our best to ease your concerns and confusion.
Try to Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Every couple is unique, and comes to us with their own medical history, diagnosis, and complications. All of these factors are incorporated into treatment, and all of these factors are important for outcome. Each patient responds to treatment differently, even if they’re on the same protocol. Listen to your doctor and his prognosis for you. Be positive, but don’t expect miracles.
Remember That Getting Pregnant is a Couple’s Project
Bring your spouse to appointments as much as possible. Being involved as a couple helps to ease the pressure when decisions have to be made. If you continue to talk to each other about your concerns and expectations, you’ll be able to handle your treatment outcomes better. I like to tell patients, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings!” They laugh, but it works for me.
Tell Your Nurses When the Stress is Too Much to Handle
Each of us has a limit to the amount of stress we can endure. When you reach that limit, it may be time to take a break from infertility treatment. Sometimes couples counseling is beneficial at this point. Please ask us for help. Your nurses should have a list of counselors available for you.
As a nurse in this specialty, I’ve experienced some of the best and worst moments possible in nursing. We nurses always consider ourselves part of a team working with you and your doctors toward your goal of a family. Hopefully your own journey will be a positive experience. Good luck.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 2004 Premiere issue of Conceive Magazine.