Getting the most out of your team

Despite the number of people on your IVF team, ideally you should i Be able to get hold of a team member easily when you need to i Feel that all team members care about you and respond to your needs

I Feel well-informed and well-supported throughout your treatment

I Have confidence in the team members being knowledgeable and competent

In smaller clinics you soon get to know who's who and the team members get to know you quickly too, so communication usually flows easily. In larger clinics it can be more difficult to know who to turn to when you need information and support, but if the clinic is well run you're in good hands (even if there are many of them).

The following section includes some tips for getting the most out of your team.

When phoning the clinic, you may get frustrated sometimes trying to find the right person to talk to. You may find yourself being kept on hold (listening to music you don't even like) or being transferred from one person to another without getting anywhere. It may even be hard finding someone willing to talk to you. If this happens, put on your sternest voice and ask the receptionist to find someone to call you back within ten minutes (or whatever time frame you think is fair).

Looking for general information

Clinics usually have heaps of written information on most aspects of IVF that you can access either on the clinic website or as a hard copy from the clinic reception. If this material doesn't contain what you need, ask your IVF nurse to help or to point you in the right direction.

If your query is more specific — for example, you may want to know more about what causes male factor infertility, or look up IVF statistics for Australia or figure out how to find an egg donor — ask your IVF doctor.

Needing support

From time to time having IVF treatment gets tough and you may want to talk to someone or get advice about how to manage the stress (I explain more about coping with stress in IVF in Chapter 9). The most obvious first port of call is, of course, the counsellors, so feel free to call the clinic to make an appointment with a counsellor. If that's not soon enough for you and you need to offload straight away, your best bet is to contact one of the nurses, who're more than willing to listen to you and do their best to help.

You may find joining a support group helpful. The counsellors can put you in touch with the right people. Some larger clinics have support groups linked to them; the benefit is that group members share the experience of going through treatment at the same clinic.

Keeping up with your treatment progress

During treatment you keep in close contact with the IVF nurse either by phone or via email. The nurse informs you about your test results, tells you what to do next, schedules your appointments and hopefully gives you good news about the progress of your treatment.

If you need to know anything relating to your treatment, contact the nurse: If she doesn't have the answer to your question, she can find someone who does.

Seeking scientific information

The scientific side of IVF treatment is very complex, but you need to have some understanding of the process. At a minimum you need to grasp some facts about reproduction in general, how fertility drugs work (see Chapter 6) and early embryo development (see Chapter 7). Reading this book is a great start, but your IVF doctor and the embryologists are always willing to help you to get your head around the science of IVF.

Embryologists are the guardians of your precious eggs and sperm; they're the people you entrust to produce healthy embryos for you. When an embryologist has completed this task for you, he or she discusses the results with you and this often involves a fair bit of technical information about embryo development. Make sure that you understand the process; if you don't, ask the embryologist or your IVF doctor to carefully explain and keep asking questions until you know as much as possible about your embryos (sometimes a drawing makes it easier to understand).

Understanding costs and fees

Believe it or not, IVF billing can be one of the hardest things to understand because you need to keep tab of several transactions. You usually pay money upfront to the clinic when you start treatment and then some may be reimbursed to you by Medicare and/or your private health insurance fund. Most clinics have a member of staff dedicated to explaining the billing procedure and to help you follow the money trail.

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