What Does a Fertility Clinic Do?

by | Dec 22, 2021 | Fertility 101, Infertility, Resources

Most people only think about a fertility clinic if they need their services. Those who can become naturally pregnant, or who do not want to have children at all, may never consider the topic. However, for the 1 in 8 individuals who do want a child but have trouble conceiving, a fertility clinic can suddenly become one of the most important places in their lives. Fertility clinics bring together reproductive health experts to provide a range of services to their patients.

Who Uses a Fertility Clinic?

Most patients at a fertility clinic receive treatment for infertility. Infertility is defined as being unable to conceive after at least twelve months of unprotected, regular intercourse. It is very common: 1 in 8 people struggle with infertility. This can also apply to LGBTQ+ couples or single individuals looking to become parents through third-party reproduction. Some patients are not actively looking to become a parent, but may be interested in fertility preservation or treatment for managing diseases of the reproductive system, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.

The Home of Fertility Experts

Staff at a fertility clinic usually include:

  • Reproductive endocrinologists, or doctors specializing in fertility and reproductive health
  • Nurses & nurse practitioners trained in reproductive medicine
  • Administrative staff including patient care coordinators and IVF coordinators

Clinics that have their own on-site laboratory, such as PNWF, also employ embryologists, who work with retrieved eggs and sperm to fertilize and develop embryos. Embryologists also freeze and thaw embryos and conduct genetic testing.

Some clinics outsource their embryology services to third-party labs. At PNWF, however, we built a state-of-the-art lab in our Seattle fertility clinic and hired expert embryologists and support staff to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care and to minimize the risk of error. We also have genetic and financial counselors to help patients navigate the logistics of fertility treatments.

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Initial Infertility Testing

The first step at a fertility clinic is a comprehensive initial evaluation. This often includes a physical exam, bloodwork to test for hormone levels and ovarian reserve, an ultrasound of the uterus and ovaries, a uterine exam, and a semen analysis, as needed.

The clinic will then process your results and review them with you in a follow-up appointment. At this time, you and your fertility specialist will develop a treatment plan personalized to your specific situation and goals. 

Treatments and Procedures at a Fertility Clinic

Most fertility clinics also perform fertility-related treatments on site. These can include:

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
  • Laparoscopic procedures
  • Egg retrievals
  • Embryo transfer
  • Early-stage pregnancy testing
  • Prenatal monitoring through 8-10 weeks of pregnancy

If the clinic also has an embryology lab, they may perform:

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT-A)
  • Egg, sperm, or embryo cryopreservation (freezing) and thawing

A fertility clinic may also provide services to egg and sperm donors and gestational surrogates, depending on the donor agreement with the intended parents.

A Center of Compassion and Expertise

Your fertility clinic should be a place where you feel safe, cared for, and heard. Experiencing infertility is very challenging, and you deserve the best kindness and care available. Look for a fertility clinic that goes above and beyond to help patients on their journey. For instance, PNWF offers additional resources and counseling to support your experience. For more information, reach out to us today.