Checking out your local clinics

The best starting point for your research is the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA). This organisation represents doctors, scientists, counsellors, nurses and consumers in reproductive medicine. FSA's Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) monitors clinics around the country to make sure that they provide services according to industry standards. IVF clinics can operate only if they pass the auditing process and are granted a licence by RTAC.

The FSA's website (www.fsa.au.com) has a section listing the names and locations of all IVF clinics in the country. Click on the RTAC tab at the top of the page and then on Accredited Units: The clinics appear, sorted by states. Use this information to find the clinics in your local area and then visit the websites of the clinics that interest you to check out what each clinic has to say about its services. Clinic websites are often very glossy and full of promises but they also contain useful information. By comparing the contents of several clinics' websites you get a feel for how the clinics operate and what services they provide.

Sometimes you can't find all the information you need online. Don't hesitate to phone any of the clinics you're interested in to find out more. Also ask whether they send out information packs to prospective clients — for example, some clinics have educational DVDs outlining what treatment involves.

In addition, you may want to ask each clinic how treatment information is provided and who explains what the procedures involve. Before you can give informed consent to treatment you need to get your head around a lot of information, such as the downsides to treatment and the potential side effects of drugs. So you need to be sure that the clinic explains this information clearly to you.

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