Finding Your Way To Pregnancy

These days, the number and types of services available to infertile couples are at an all-time high. That makes sifting through the dizzying array of legal, emotional, financial, and medical options a kind of nightmare in and of itself. The demand for clarity has created a new type of specialist: fertility consultants.

Fertility specialists, also known as reproductive endocrinologists are actual doctors. But while they are the ones who can put science into practice, the fertility consultant can guide couples through the infertility maze. The process includes choosing the right doctor, the clinic with the best statistics, and settling the many other types of intangible issues not covered on a physician's spreadsheet. The fertility consultant does the heavy research work, acts as your consumer advocate, and lends you a listening ear.

Quite Vulnerable

Fertility consultants Angie Best-Boss and Evelina W. Sterling co-authored the book, "Budgeting for Infertility." Best-Boss believes her job is to show clients their options because couples are at the mercy of the process and quite vulnerable. "They want this so badly. It is hard to differentiate between clinics who will help you get what you want and those that just want your money."

Best-Boss explains that there is no regulation for the fertility industry. Couples can't find out from a simple Google search whether or not a given institution will push them into using an egg donor to boost its statistics. That's where Best-Boss's vast knowledge of the process comes into play.

Best-Boss has a master's degree in counseling and puts this to good use during calls on every issue from starting the process to organizing a conception attempt both complicated and expensive that features an egg donor, a surrogate, and a lawyer. Best-Boss' fee of $125 for a 50-minute phone counseling session may seem steep, but can end up being a bargain by helping avoid unnecessary or ill-advised and expensive procedures.

"A Failure"

Still, not too many fertility specialists enjoy the idea of third party involvement. Larger clinics do tend to have among their professional staff financial coordinators, social workers, and counselors to assist the physicians in administering a full service to their patients. "I would consider it a failure if a patient thought they needed a fee-for-service fertility consultant," says reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Laurence Udoff, of the Genetics & IVF Institute in Fairfax. "A fertility clinic should address all the needs of their patients."

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