Choosing a Clinic & RE

I’ve had a few blog friends writing lately about wondering how to best choose a RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist – basically, a fertility specialist), so I figured I should write up our process just to have it out there for those who are googling! For us, we live in an area with zero REs. Literally zero. The closest REs are 300 miles / six hours away (in either Denver or Salt Lake City), so for us, we decided that if we were going to travel that far to see a doc, you can bet your bottom dollar that we were going to the best. For us, that meant CCRM. Here’s the run down of our experience from two years ago…

  • December 2010: We debated on which clinic to go with. My OB had finally referred me to their default RE clinic after 17 months TTC, and everyone in the IF community was recommending a different one. Since they were both a 300 mile drive away in Denver, I looked at the stats, and CCRM won hands down (not to mention they responded quickly to my email and got me booked with an appointment!).
  • January  2011: We did our initial phone consult with Dr. Surrey. It cost $250 to do a phone consult, and it was 100% worth it. He and his nurse were SO knowledgeable, and we finally had a plan!
  • February 2011: We did our CD3 one day work up (ODWU) in Denver. You can click here to see a breakdown of our costs. We paid out of pocket for almost all of it, and the total cost was just over $2k. This can be closer to $3k depending on which tests you elect to do – we skipped a couple of the elective ones. Based on our test results, Dr. S did not recommend jumping straight to IVF, but instead recommended 3 gonadotropin injectible IUI cycles. We liked that he didn’t push us to the big guns for no reason.
  • March 2011: We did our IUI in Denver. We could have done the IUI at a OB’s office about 2 hrs from our house if desired (this is what one of my IRL friends here did after a ODWU and consult with CCRM), but my husband was working out of state at the time, so we needed to use CCRM’s clinic for the IUI itself because their labs could handle frozen sperm samples. Yep, Charlie was working on an oil rig in ND while I got knocked up in Denver. 🙂
    • Note: It is evident that CCRM is used to working with patients from afar. They were great at emailing orders for bloodwork and ultrasounds, and when my local hospital/clinic faxed them results, they always called or emailed ASAP with instructions about what to do next. This was handy for a medicated IUI cycle, and I can imagine that promptness is imperative for an IVF cycle.
  • April 2011: We found out we were pregnant! CCRM continued to monitor me for the next six weeks or so as my progesterone levels weren’t rising appropriately for awhile. At 10w I was released to the care of my midwife’s office, and we never looked back!

It’s crazy to see it all written out like that how quickly everything moved. At the time it felt like everything was taking forever – I suppose because we were in the midst of TTC heartache and feeling like the previous 18 months had been such a waste. Also, with me having PCOS (aka. long, irregular, often anovulatory cycles) it felt like we were barely ever even getting even a chance to conceive. In all reality, each month wait was for a reason by the time we reached this part of the process – they were booked out about 1 month for a phone consult appointment, then we had to wait until a CD3 to do our ODWU, then we had to wait for my next cycle to start the meds & do the actual IUI.

The RE told me that we had about a 20% chance of success with each IUI cycle based on my history/labs/etc. — so doing that basically brought our chance of success into the realm of normal for fertile people my age. If we didn’t have success with 3 cycles, he wanted to move onto IVF, and that was a plan we were totally comfortable with.

Overall, we were very impressed with CCRM. They were both efficient and communicative – both qualities that I especially appreciated since we were so far away. I loved that I could email my nurse with any questions I had – and that she would respond quite quickly. We chose CCRM in the event that IVF was needed for us to conceive because their IVF success rates pretty much blow everyone else out of the water, but thankfully we had luck with our very first IUI cycle with them!

For lots of GREAT info and links regarding choosing an IVF clinic, please click here to read an awesome post by Carole of Fertility Lab Insider!

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9 comments

  1. mcmissis · · Reply

    I can’t remember what your recent post said exactly. Is IUI for a second baby out of the question for you guys?

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    1. Probably – we’d have to go through all of the diagnostic testing again because it’s been over a year, plus my body responds really slowly to meds (which means lots of meds + monitoring). Our diagnostic work + IUI cycle + travel cost us $10k last time, which we absolutely don’t have. 😛

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  2. This was really helpful Josey. Thanks for posting this info. I actually just got off the phone with CCRM. We have a consult set up with Dr. Surrey for the first week in May. I’m really excited. I was so confused by the phone consult cost, but Martay at CCRM cleared it up for me. I guess the cost of the phone consult depends on where you live. If they have a doctor at CCRM who is licensed in your state, you have to pay for it. If they don’t have a doctor licensed in your state, they can’t charge for it.

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    1. Oooh – good to know! Good luck with your consult!

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  3. I’m so glad it took just one go. It is so devastating that one IUI cycle costs $10000 that is just ludicrous 😦 if I win the lotto there is a cheque coming your way 😉

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    1. Ha! Thanks. It can cost much lower ($2-3k) if you have insurance that covers testing and/or any of your meds/monitoring. We just didn’t (as most don’t in the US).

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      1. Still – it sucks! I have so much going on in my head about #2 I really would love another one but timing is bad now and I won’t do treatment until at least next year which by then I will be nearly 36. Stupid old body 😦

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  4. I think it’s fabulous that you posted this yesterday because I was laying in bed in the wee hours, looking at my fertility clinic on Facebook and found where they posted a National Infertility Awareness Week cover photo (back in April 2012), and whose face did I see??? YOU!!! It was from theinfertilityvoice.com – a collage of photos that used the little yellow squiggle. 🙂 AND… IUIs are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper here. My bff paid $600. I’m shocked at your expense!

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    1. LOL, random about the picture!

      The IUI itself is super cheap – only $125. It was all of the meds and monitoring that added up for us – we paid $1550 just for the monitoring bloodwork, $700 for the meds, $1,300 for the ultrasounds, $700 for the sperm freeze and thaw (b/c Charlie was out of state), plus a lot of other misc. costs. The biggest problem was that I was a slow responder, so I think I had 4 separate monitoring appts that broke down to about $500/day. *sigh*

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