Happy Thursday and continuation of National Infertility Awareness Week!
Today I want to share an amazing resource that infertility-treatment seeking couples will find immensely helpful. I often get emails from ladies in the Twin Cities areas with tons of questions about the clinics I have visited and the doctors I have seen. It’s amazing when we can sit over coffee and chat about strengths, weaknesses, protocols, and physician styles. This ability to talk about clinics shouldn’t only occur when people can connect through social media with same-citied friends. It’s valuable insight that everyone should have access to!
So, I want to introduce you to Jake, his wife Deborah, and this amazing resource they have created called FertilityIQ. (No, this isn’t a paid endorsement, I just really love what they are doing and offering to the infertility community!) In fact, I asked Jake to share with y’all today a little bit about FertilityIQ – read below!
My wife, Deb, and I made every mistake in the book when it came to choosing a fertility doctor. Our first RE came on a luke-warm rec from someone we hardly we knew. For the next doctor, we tightened our criteria and went with a guy who once appeared on basic cable. And after Dr. Basic Cable made an error that sent my wife to the Emergency Room, I had to remind him his job was to help us grow our family, not shrink it. Deb and I entrusted our fertility doctors with our hopes, our prayers, and our savings. Yet we knew almost nothing about them beforehand and, unsurprisingly, the end results were heartbreaking.
Last year, Deb and I decided “enough was enough” and from our kitchen table in San Francisco, we built FertilityIQ. At FertilityIQ, fertility patients thoroughly, but anonymously, review their Reproductive Endocrinologist and hopeful parents read these reviews to help make a more informed selection. Today, 20% of all fertility patients in the U.S. come to FertilityIQ and Deb and I are doing everything possible to earn their trust. We ask reviewers to provide us a document that shows they were patients of the clinic they are evaluating, so readers can trust what they are reading. We refuse to take any advertising dollars, so there is no question about content objectivity. And yes, Global Headquarters is till our 4th floor apartment.
Going to the wrong doctors cost us three years of our lives, $75,000 of our savings and definitely sapped the excitement of marriage. But our data shows we are the rule, not the exception: the average fertility patient will give up on their first doctor, and be forced to restart with a second, or even a third. I get a sick pit in my stomach when I think about what it’s like to start completely over at a new clinic. Demoralizing is not the word.
So why is it so hard to find the right fertility doctor? For one, the existing online and offline resources are shamelessly poor. Next, the decision is highly-personal and a common phrase we read is, “I loved my doctor for the same reason my friend hated them”. Third, we know time is not on our side, so we have to make snap judgements and split decisions. If you are reading this, there is a 50% chance your first choice doctor at your clinic was not available, so you went with whoever was. In such circumstances, we settle, despite all that hangs in the balance.
For years, my job was to study communities, and I have never seen a community that is as educated, knowledgeable, empathetic and motivated, as fertility patients. And yet, when it comes to our treatment, many of us feel like we know far too little about what is actually happening, and like we don’t know where to turn for answers. It’s a cruel paradox, with tragic consequences for all of us.
Deb and I built FertilityIQ to reverse this, to harness our compassion and to pool our wisdom, so we can collectively make smarter decisions and reach parenthood with our marriages, emotions and bank accounts in tact. The more reviews we gather from fertility patients, the more we are able to help hopeful parents at the start of a lonely, and intimidating, odyssey.
Fertility 101- https://www.fertilityiq.com/fertility-101
Conception: How Pregnancy Happens (this lesson covers the basics of human reproduction, and all the components we need for a pregnancy to happen) – https://www.fertilityiq.com/fertility-101/what-you-need-to-conceive-get-pregnant
Issues that prevent pregnancy – https://www.fertilityiq.com/fertility-101/issues-that-prevent-pregnancy
Getting pregnant naturally (covering things like how long natural conception should take, what the chances are per month, by age; how many couples conceive after 3, 6, 12 months, when to seek help) – https://www.fertilityiq.com/fertility-101/getting-pregnant-naturally
Diagnosing Fertility Issues & Getting help – covering the diagnostics for each problem – what the diagnostics tell us & dont (strengths & weaknesses), when to get help, tradeoffs of OBGYN vs RE) – https://www.fertilityiq.com/fertility-101/diagnosing-fertility-issues-and-getting-help
How Fertility Treatments Address Our Problems (a brief overview of each fertility treatment and the things that it helps us overcome to have a baby) – https://www.fertilityiq.com/fertility-101/how-fertility-treatments-address-our-problems
Lifestyle Choices – https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle
Smoking, caffeine, & alcohol, and their impacts on fertility: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/smoking-caffeine-alcohol-impacts-on-fertility
Body fat & fertility: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/body-fat-and-fertility
Exercise & fertility: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/exercise-and-fertility
Different diets, and how they affect fertility: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/diet-and-fertility
Impacts of carbohydrates, dairy, meat, fish, soy, seafood & more specific food groups: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/fertility-impacts-of-carbohydrates-dairy-meat-fish-soy-and-more
Vitamins & supplements: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/vitamins-supplements-and-fertility
BPA & phthalate exposure, and the steps you can take to possibly mitigate the negative impacts of those exposures: https://www.fertilityiq.com/lifestyle/bpa-and-phthalate-exposure
PGS Genetic Testing: https://www.fertilityiq.com/pgs-embryo-genetic-screening
For the overview of PGS (or, as they now refer to it as, PGT-A) testing of embryos, this is a lesson from our IVF course that covers it: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/pgs-genetic-screening-of-embryos#what-is-pgs-genetic-screening
We also have a comprehensive guide to PGS covering every issue here – https://www.fertilityiq.com/pgs-embryo-genetic-screening
Like what is PGS, and what’s the point of doing it in the first place? What are we hoping that the test tells us? https://www.fertilityiq.com/pgs-embryo-genetic-screening/what-is-pgs
Understanding Mosaicism, how it relates to genetic screening, and why you should care: https://www.fertilityiq.com/pgs-embryo-genetic-screening/what-is-mosaicism-and-why-should-i-care#why-mosaicism-matters
Fully understanding the costs of PGS: https://www.fertilityiq.com/pgs-embryo-genetic-screening/costs-of-pgs#what-does-pgs-cost
A thorough, but quick summary of the entire IVF process (only 5 minutes!) – https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/summary-of-the-ivf-process
A Full explanation of the timeline, steps & decisions in the IVF process: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/the-ivf-process
An explanation of IVF success rates: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/ivf-success-rates
Ovarian stimulation protocols. This is a deep dive on the medications, doses, and types of protocols that work best depending on which type of patient you are: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/ovarian-stimulation-protocols-an-introduction
A quick overview of ICSI vs. conventional insemination: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/conventional-insemination-or-icsi
Day 3 or Day 5? Unpacking the decision to grow embryos to cleavage vs. blastocyst stage: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/cleavage-vs-blastocyst-embryos-day3-day5
High level explanation of tradeoffs of preimplantation genetic screening of embryos: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/pgs-genetic-screening-of-embryos
Deciding which embryo to transfer — an explanation of embryo grading, and how to select the best embryo to transfer based on those parameters. For example, what do you do if your embryo grades and PGS results conflict? Or how does the day an embryo becomes a blastocyst impact your chances of success with that embryo? https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/which-embryo-to-transfer
Understanding the decision to transfer fresh or frozen embryos — https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/transferring-fresh-or-frozen-embryos
A high level overview on deciding how many embryos to transfer at once. How does it impact your success rates if you transfer a single embryo vs. multiple embryos? https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/how-many-embryos-to-transfer-at-once
An overview of the role of the IVF lab, why it’s so important, and what you need to know before picking a lab: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/importance-of-the-lab
The risks of IVF. Understanding issues of ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS), issues with multiple-gestation pregnancies, potential risks like birth defects for offspring, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/risks-of-ivf
Costs of IVF. Understanding the total costs you can expect and factors that can change the cost. Comparing the costs to other treatments like IUI. Understanding insurance coverage, getting loans for IVF, and shared risk or package programs: https://www.fertilityiq.com/ivf-in-vitro-fertilization/costs-of-ivf
An overview of IUI. What is it? Who can it help? How it compares to other fertility treatments in terms of costs, risks, and success rates. How often IUI works. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/an-overview-of-iui
The biggest decisions in an IUI cycle. The choice of using medication, and which type. How you do monitoring and ovulation prediction. Decisions around triggering ovulation or releasing the egg. Preparing the sperm. Whether a doctor or someone else performs an IUI. Doing a second insemination the next day. Doing IUI at a fertility clinic vs. an OB/GYN. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/the-biggest-decisions-in-an-iui-cycle
The logistics of IUI. Explaining how IUI works depending on whether you do a natural cycle with no drugs, us letrozole or clomid, or do injectable gonadotropins. The logistics and common questions around insemination day. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/the-logistics-of-iui
How well IUI works by patient type. IUI can be more or less effective for different types of people, and we break down that data. IUI birth rates & multiples risk in context of other treatments. IUI for unexplained infertility, for male factor, for PCOS, anovulation, or irregular cycles. Clomid vs. Letrozole for PCOS patients. Using gonadotropins. IUI with one blocked tube. IUI for lesbian women or single women. When to stop IUI and start IVF. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/how-well-iui-works-by-patient-type
The costs of IUI. Breaking down the components of cost. Insurance coverage. Cost of twins and triplets. Comparing IUI’s value with IVF. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/the-cost-of-iui
The risks of IUI. Infections, high order multiple-gestation pregnancies, OHSS, mood swings or hot flashes. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/risks-of-iui
Deciding between IUI & IVF. https://www.fertilityiq.com/iui-or-artificial-insemination/deciding-between-iui-vs-ivf
What is endometriosis? How does it develop? How does endometriosis impact fertility? How common is it? Who is at risk? https://www.fertilityiq.com/endometriosis/what-is-endometriosis
Diagnosing endometriosis. How we do it, and how accurate our tools are at diagnosing it. What you need to know about using surgery as a diagnostic. Diagnosing endometriosis using symptoms & physical exam. Using ultrasound to diagnose. Using MRI to diagnose. Biomarkers to diagnose. https://www.fertilityiq.com/endometriosis/diagnosing-endometriosis
Treating endometriosis. Endometriosis staging and how that relates to treatment. Treating endo with surgery. Predicting whether surgery will help. Surgery to improve IVF. Risks of surgery. Ensuring you go to a good surgeon. IVF for endometriosis. How to optimize IVF for endo. IUI. Medications to treat endo. Lifestyle modifications to improve endo. https://www.fertilityiq.com/endometriosis/treating-endometriosis
Male Factor Infertility: https://www.fertilityiq.com/male-factor-infertility
Reproductive endocrinologists vs. reproductive urologists for male factor infertility. https://www.fertilityiq.com/male-factor-infertility/reproductive-endocrinologists-and-urologists
The semen analysis. The most important things that it measures. Why there’s so much variability. The process. Reading the semen analysis. Understanding sperm concentration, sperm motility, total motile count, and sperm morphology. The relationship between semen analysis & other diseases. https://www.fertilityiq.com/male-factor-infertility/the-semen-analysis
IVF, ICSI, IUI & male factor infertility. Understanding when IVF + ICSI are necessary, and when they’re not in the context of male factor. Understanding the tools most often used by reproductive endocrinologists & urologists for MFI. https://www.fertilityiq.com/male-factor-infertility/ivf-icsi-iui-and-male-factor-infertility
Lifestyle factors and their impact on male factor infertility. Smoking, caffeine, alcohol, body weight, exercise, drug use, medications, cellphone use. https://www.fertilityiq.com/male-factor-infertility/lifestyle-factors-and-their-impact-on-male-factor-infertility
Varicocele. What it is. How common it is. Diagnosing varicocele. Who is a candidate for surgical repair. What varicocele surgery entails. IUI alone vs. IUI + surgery. IVF with ICSI vs. Varicocele surgery vs. IVF + ICSI + surgery.
Azoospermia. The types of azoospermia (pre-testicular, testicular, post-testicular). Retrieving sperm with TESE & MicroTESE. Using fresh or frozen, surgically-retrieved sperm. https://www.fertilityiq.com/male-factor-infertility/azoospermia
Testosterone & hormone imbalances. Hormone detection & treatment. Taking testosterone supplements.
Older dads. What’s the impact of paternal age on infertility? Impact to offspring. Autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.
ICSI: A deep dive into ICSI. https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi
High level costs vs. benefits of ICSI: https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi/introducing-icsi-and-course-plan
What is ICSI? Comparing ICSI to natural & “conventional” insemination. https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi/what-is-icsi
When is ICSI necessary? Who needs it and who doesn’t? Covering different types of male factor, unexplained infertility, poor responders with few eggs retrieved, advanced maternal age, previous low fertilization rates. https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi/who-needs-icsi-and-who-doesn-t
Risks of ICSI. Looking at the studies on the impacts to offspring of IVF + ICSI cycles. https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi/risks-of-icsi
Is ICSI required for genetic screening of embryos? For all screening vs. for single gene disorder diagnosis. https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi/is-icsi-required-for-pgs-and-pgd
Understanding ICSI’s costs. https://www.fertilityiq.com/icsi/understanding-icsis-costs
Embryo Transfer Guide: https://www.fertilityiq.com/embryo-transfer
How many embryos to transfer at once? This is a deep dive into the decision of how many embryos to transfer. Covering the risks & the benefits of multiple embryo transfer. What to do after a failed single embryo transfer. The decision in the context of Day 3 vs. Day 5 embryos. ASRM recommendations. Financial implications.
Frozen embryo transfer protocols: different options to prepare the endometrium. Comparing natural (unmedicated) vs. artificial (medicated) transfer protocols leading up to a frozen embryo transfer. Guidelines of how to decide between these options, and who might be a good candidate for each.
Improving your live birth rate per transfer. Screening the doctor who oversees your transfer, and why this matters. Tactically improving your transfer. The purpose of a mock transfer.
The IVF Laboratory: https://www.fertilityiq.com/the-ivf-laboratory
What is a fertility laboratory? How does it fit into IVF? What actually happens in the lab? THe surprising differences in lab quality. https://www.fertilityiq.com/the-ivf-laboratory/what-is-a-fertility-laboratory
How you can measure lab quality. The key performance indicators you should look at when selecting. The numbers you should see for fertilization rate, blast conversion rate, successful PGS biopsy rate, blast cryosurvival rate, and understanding results like implantation rate. https://www.fertilityiq.com/the-ivf-laboratory/how-you-can-measure-lab-quality
The components of a reliable lab. Quality of embryologists. The schedule you should look for so your success wouldn’t be impeded. Disaster recovery. Accreditation and understanding when it matters. What to think if your clinic doesn’t have its own lab.
Incubators and why they really matter. Low oxygen incubators are better but not everyone has them. Incubator crowding. Do time lapse imaging systems help?
What is acupuncture? How does it work? Side effects. Traditional Chinese Medicine for fertility. https://www.fertilityiq.com/acupuncture/what-is-acupuncture
How does acupuncture address fertility challenges? Enhanced blood flow. Hormone regulation. Stress mediation.
Does acupuncture improve outcomes? https://www.fertilityiq.com/acupuncture/does-acupuncture-improve-outcomes
Costs & drawbacks of acupuncture. https://www.fertilityiq.com/acupuncture/costs-and-drawbacks-of-acupuncture
Herbs & fertility. https://www.fertilityiq.com/acupuncture/herbs-and-fertility
Choosing an acupuncturist. https://www.fertilityiq.com/acupuncture/choosing-an-acupuncturist
Egg Freezing: A Comprehensive Guide https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing
The process of egg freezing. Understanding why you need so many eggs (the IVF funnel). https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/the-process-of-egg-freezing
Does egg freezing work? Understanding the premise of egg freezing. How the number and quality of eggs decreases as we age. Why egg freezing works. Predicting success with egg freezing. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/does-egg-freezing-work
Knowing whether you should freeze eggs: predicting whether you’ll have trouble conceiving. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/knowing-whether-you-should-freeze-eggs-predicting-whether-youll-have
The importance of the laboratory for egg freezing. How to know if your lab is good at freezing and thawing eggs. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/the-importance-of-the-laboratory
The risks of egg freezing. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/risks-of-egg-freezing
The age when you freeze eggs: understanding the tradeoffs and implications. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/the-age-when-you-freeze-understanding-the-implications-and-tradeoffs
The costs of egg freezing. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/the-costs-of-egg-freezing
Freezing eggs vs. embryos. https://www.fertilityiq.com/egg-freezing/freezing-eggs-vs-embryos