Doctor, do I REALLY have to have IVF? I get this question nearly every day from patients who come from far and near. The short and the long of it is – it depends. In vitro fertilization and other fertility protocols that are sometimes called “assisted reproductive technology (ART)” are by far the most effective fertility treatments available. However, not everything that you CAN do SHOULD always be done, or should be done as the first line of treatment.
The most important part of the decision making process is education. Any patients contemplating fertility treatment should become knowledgeable about the choices that are offered based on their unique circumstances. In some cases, the IVF procedure becomes the only reasonable and recommended treatment. Specific circumstances often include significant abnormalities with semen and sperm count or problems with fallopian tubes. Other well-established reasons to seek IVF may have to do with lack of success with other, simpler fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination.
IVF and ART treatments have their drawbacks and should not be suggested lightly. A patient or a couple should only consider IVF after careful and thoughtful consideration when they are comfortable with the choice of treatment, as it requires many visits and a considerable time commitment. This certainly requires dedication on the part of the provider and the patient to form a partnership where all parties are comfortable with their choices.
At Advanced Reproductive Medicine, we believe in the patient’s choice and the patient’s right to autonomy. Autonomy means that the patients are entitled to make decisions about their care without undue influence or coercion. Patient autonomy does require that a healthcare provider should educate the patient. However, the decision on how to proceed should be made by the patient and not anyone else.
Our philosophy is that, whenever possible, patients should be in the driver’s seat. You as a patient should have the most accurate information available that’s specific to your needs and special circumstances. Ultimately, the patient must decide for him or herself if they HAVE to do IVF after a thorough discussion with a knowledgeable and caring physician.